Age-dependent relationships between children’s motor competence, physical activity, perceived motor competence, physical fitness and weight status

Anne R. den Uil, Mirka Janssen, Vincent Busch, Ilse T. Kat, Ron H.J. Scholte

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Abstract

In their developmental model, Stodden et al. (2008) propose age-
dependent relations between motor competence, physical activity,
perceived motor competence, physical fitness, and weight status that
can lead to a spiral of (dis)engagement. The goal of this study was to
explore these relations in a large sample of Dutch primary school
children. To our knowledge, this is the first study including all five
aspects of the model and a large sample of children between four and
thirteen years old. Cross-sectional data was collected in 2068 children
(ages 4–13), divided over 9 age groups. During physical education
classes, they completed the 4-Skills Test, a physical activity question-
naire, versions of the Self-Perception Profile for Children, Eurofit test
and anthropometry measurements. Correlation coefficients per age
group were calculated (full information maximum likelihood) and
transformed using a Fisher’s r to z transformation, after which the
test-statistic z was calculated. The results show that all five factors are
related to each other and that a tipping point exists at which relations
emerge or strengthen. Physical fitness is related to motor competence
and physical activity and these relationships strengthen with age. A
relationship between BMI and the other four factors emerges in middle
childhood. Although the model described that physical activity stimu-
lates motor competence in early childhood, our data showed that at a
young age, both motor competence and perceived motor competence
had no relation with physical activity, while they were weakly related to
each other. In middle childhood, both motor competence and perceived
motor competence were related to physical activity. Our findings
demonstrate that children in late childhood who have higher perceived
motor competence are also more physically active, have higher physical
fitness, higher motor competence and lower BMI. Our results indicate
that targeting motor competence at a young age might be a feasible way
to ensure continued participation in physical activities throughout
childhood and adolescence.
Funding source: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S14
JournalJournal of sport & exercise psychology
Volume45
Issue numberSupplement
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023
EventNorth American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity - Hilton, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 1 Jun 20233 Jun 2023

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