The relationships between children's motor competence, physical activity, perceived motor competence, physical fitness and weight status in relation to age

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

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Abstract

The goal of this cross-sectional study was to further explore the relationships between motor competence, physical activity, perceived motor competence, physical fitness and weight status in different age categories of Dutch primary school children. Participants were 2068 children aged 4 to 13 years old, divided over 9 age groups. During physical education classes, they completed the 4-Skills Test, a physical activity questionnaire, versions of the Self-Perception Profile for Children, Eurofit test and anthropometry measurements. Results show that all five factors included in the analyses are related to each other and that a tipping point exists at which relations emerge or strengthen. Physical fitness is related to both motor competence and physical activity and these relationships strengthen with age. A relationship between body mass index and the other four factors emerges in middle childhood. Interestingly, at a young age, motor competence and perceived motor competence are weakly related, but neither one of these have a relation with physical activity. In middle childhood, both motor competence and perceived motor competence are related to physical activity. Our findings show 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 body mass index. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0278438
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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