Introduction: Specificity of chess training promotes sedentary lifestyle and may reduce chess players participation in different physical activities. Limited physical activity leads to decrease of physical fitness and may augment the risk of overweight and obesity. It is suggested that these athletes will characterize more frequently lower physical fitness and weight/height proportions disorders. The aim of the study was evaluation of physical fitness and its relationship with age and body build of athletes.
Material and methods: A sample of 73 individuals (35 girls--48% and 38 boys--52%) aged 8-19 years took part in this study. All competitors were members of national team and Polish representatives for the European and world chess championship. Chess players' physical fitness was measured by EUROFIT tests.
Results: With reference to the Polish population chess players characterized higher level of physical fitness. In six tests of EUROFIT chess players had better standardized results than controls. Sit ups (mean standardized result 0.842), shuttle run 10 x 5 m (0.577), standing broad jump (0.552) and flamingo balance (0.371) were very well performed by chess players. Only in one test, bent arm hang, sportsmen achieved worse results (-0.719). Permanent decrease of chess players' physical fitness with age was also observed.
Conclusions: Although chess players' physical fitness was satisfied in comparison to age-matched control, it is recommended to include in their training more exercises developing strength. Because of changes in body build with age and decrease of physical fitness, chess players ought to participate in regular physical activity. Therefore chess organisers should provide the variety of active forms that can be chosen by competitors in their leisure time.