Secular trends in physical performance of Australian children. Evidence from the Talent Search program

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2003 Mar;43(1):90-8.


Aim: This study examined trends in aerobic fitness in 12-15-year-old South Australian schoolchildren in the years 1995-2000, based on data from the Australian Sports Commission's Talent Search program.

Methods: A total of 18,631 children were tested. The aerobic performance test used was the 20 m shuttle run test (20 mSRT). The 20 mSRT scores were expressed as completed laps, and converted to estimated VO(2)max values.

Results: There were significant declines (p=0.04-0.0001) across all age-gender slices, equivalent to 0.18 to 0.36 ml O(2) x kg(-1) x min(-1) x yr(-1), or about 0.4-0.8% of mean values per year. The rate of decline is consistent with several other Australian and overseas studies in the years 1980-2000, which have used a variety of aerobic tests across a wide range of age groups. In relation to children of similar age in 7 other countries, Australian children show poor to average aerobic fitness levels.

Conclusion: It is possible that the decay in Australian children's aerobic fitness is in part due to reduced physical activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Running / physiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • South Australia / epidemiology
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Task Performance and Analysis