Physical fitness in children with high motor competence is different from that in children with low motor competence

Phys Ther. 2009 Oct;89(10):1089-97. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20090052. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Background: Physical therapists often treat children with low motor competence. Earlier studies have demonstrated poor physical fitness outcomes and a reduced level of physical activity for these children compared with their peers with normal motor skills.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine how physical fitness developed over time in 2 groups of children: those with a low level of competence in motor skills (low motor competence [LMC]), and those with a high level of competence in motor skills (high motor competence [HMC]).

Design and methods: From an initial sample of 67 children, a group of 18 was identified as having HMC or LMC on the Movement Assessment Battery for Children and was selected for the present study. Eight children (3 girls and 5 boys) comprised the LMC group, and 10 children (4 girls and 6 boys) made up the HMC group. A longitudinal design was implemented, and physical fitness in the 2 groups was evaluated by measuring different fitness components over a period of 32 months.

Results: A mixed-effects analysis of variance revealed significant main effects for group and for time but no group x time interaction effect. The LMC group performed less well on all physical fitness measures than the HMC group, and both groups scored significantly higher on the physical fitness test after a period of 32 months. The lack of a significant interaction effect indicated that the relative differences in physical fitness outcomes between the groups were relatively constant over time.

Limitations: This study was limited by the small sample size and lack of assessment of anthropometric variables and children's perceived self-efficacy.

Conclusions: Children with LMC are likely to have poor physical fitness compared with children with HMC. The differences in physical fitness outcomes between the groups were relatively constant over time. Given that various physical fitness components are linked to different health outcomes, these consequences are matters of concern for both current health status and later health status in children with LMC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Motor Skills Disorders / diagnosis
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Motor Skills Disorders / psychology
  • Physical Fitness*