An investigation into the relationship between fundamental movement skills, physical activity and sedentary behaviour in Irish primary school children
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Introduction: The ability to perform fundamental movement skills (FMS), has been positively associated with physical activity (PA) participation in childhood, and is considered an important prerequisite to lifelong participation in sport and PA. At present, there is a lack of evidence investigating the relationship between PA and FMS proficiency in an Irish context, with no research published examining the relationship between FMS proficiency and sedentary behaviour (SB). Thus, this study aimed to establish if a relationship exists between FMS proficiency, PA levels and SB levels in Irish primary school children. Methods: One hundred and fifty participants (mean age = 7.7 ± 0.6 years) were conveniently recruited from four primary schools in the midlands region of Ireland. Proficiency in 13 FMS were assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD-3). PA and SB were assessed using the Children’s Leisure Activities Study Survey (CLASS), self-report and proxy-report version. Following pre-testing the schools were assigned to a control group and an FMS intervention group. The FMS intervention group received two 45-minute sessions per week for 8 weeks in place of normal PE classes and the control group continued with usual PE class for 8 weeks. Following the 8-week intervention, a post-test was conducted. Results: Parents reported that 25% of children were not meeting the recommended moderate-vigorous PA (MVPA) recommendations of at least 60 minutes of MVPA daily. During the week, parents also reported 24% of children exceeding the screen time (ST) recommendations of < 2 hours/day, with this increasing to 77% at the weekend. Light physical activity (LPA) as reported by the children showed a weak, negative association with the object control (OC) subtest and total TGMD-3 score. Vigorous physical activity (VPA) showed a weak, positive association with the OC subtest and the locomotor (LOC) subtest with a moderate, positive association reported between VPA and total TGMD-3 score. SB showed a weak, negative association with total TGMD-3 score and OC subtest. LPA, moderate physical activity (MPA) and SB as reported by the parent showed no association with any FMS variables. VPA showed a weak, positive association with total TGMD-3 score and a moderate positive association with the OC subtest. Following the intervention there was a significant difference between the intervention group and control group for 5 of the 13 FMS examined with the intervention group showing the greatest improvements. The only significant differences observed between the intervention and control group for PA was parent-reported MPA and MVPA. SB also decreased but this was not significant. Conclusion: Higher PA levels were positively associated with better FMS, indicating there is a relationship between these two, but this relationship was weak. Following the intervention, 5 of the 13 FMS, MPA and MVPA significantly improved, demonstrating the effectiveness of the intervention. Therefore, targeted interventions which increase FMS and PA levels and reduce SB levels are required to sustain a child’s development and involvement in PA in later life.
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