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Physical Fitness Differences Between Prepubescent Boys and Girls

Marta, Carlos C.1,2; Marinho, Daniel A.2,3; Barbosa, Tiago M.2,4; Izquierdo, Mikel5; Marques, Mário C.2,3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 7 - p 1756–1766
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825bb4aa
Original Research

Abstract: Marta, CC, Marinho, DA, Barbosa, TM, Izquierdo, M, and Marques, MC. Physical fitness differences between prepubescent boys and girls. J Strength Cond Res 26(7): 1756–1766, 2012—The purpose of this study was to analyze in which physical capabilities boys and girls are closer or distant. An additional objective was to find which of the body fat, physical activity, and somatotype factors have a greater effect on prepubescent children's physical fitness. This was a cross-sectional study involving 312 children (10.8 ± 0.4 years). The physical fitness assessment employed sets of aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility, speed, agility, and balance. The boys presented higher values in all selected tests, except tests of balance and flexibility, in which girls scored better. Gender differences in the physical fitness were greatest in the explosive strength of upper (p ≤ 0.01,

) and lower limbs (p ≤ 0.01,

), although with a medium-size effect of gender, and smaller in the abdominal (p > 0.05,

) and upper limbs (p > 0.05,

) muscular endurance, and trunk extensor strength and flexibility (p > 0.05,

). The endomorphic (p ≤ 0.01,

) in the girls, and the ectomorphic (p ≤ 0.01,

) and mesomorphic (p ≤ 0.01,

) in the boys, had the high-sized effect on the physical fitness. The physical activity in the girls, and the endomorphic and body fat in the boys, did not have a significant effect. These findings can help in the planning of activities that take into account the success and motivation of both boys and girls and thus increase levels of physical activity and physical fitness at school. However, in prepubescent children, one cannot neglect the influence of genetic determinism, observed from the morphoconstitutional point of view.

1Department of Sport Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, Education, Communication, and Sport School, IPG, Guarda, Portugal

2Research Center in Sports, Health and Human Development, CIDESD, Portugal

3Department of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal

4Department of Sport Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Bragança, Portugal

5Department of Health Sciences, Public University of Navarre, Navarre, Spain

Address correspondence to Dr. Mikel Izquierdo,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association