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Sports Participation, Physical Activity, and Health-Related Fitness in Youth With Chronic Diseases or Physical Disabilities

The Health in Adapted Youth Sports Study

Lankhorst, Kristel1,2; Takken, Tim3; Zwinkels, Maremka2,4; van Gaalen, Leendert1; Velde, Saskia te1; Backx, Frank2; Verschuren, Olaf4; Wittink, Harriet1; de Groot, Janke1,3,5

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 13, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003098
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Lankhorst, K, Takken, T, Zwinkels, M, van Gaalen, L, Velde, St, Backx, F, Verschuren, O, Wittink, H, and de Groot, J. Sports participation, physical activity, and health-related fitness in youth with chronic diseases or physical disabilities: the health in adapted youth sports study. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—Youth with chronic diseases or physical disabilities (CDPD) often show reduced fitness and physical activity (PA) levels and participate less in organized sports compared with healthy peers. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between participation in sports and health-related fitness and PA in youth with CDPD. A total of 163 participants (mean age 14 years; range 8–19 years) with CDPD were included in this cross-sectional study, with 81 participating in organized sports and 82 not. Participants were recruited between October 2014 and November 2016. Aerobic and anaerobic fitness, agility, and muscle strength were assessed in the laboratory, whereas PA was monitored in daily life using accelerometry during 1 week. Linear regression analyses were used to assess the associations of sports participation (independent variable) with health-related fitness and PA (dependent variables). Results show that youth with CDPD participating in organized sports 2 times a week performed better on all outcome measures. They reached a higher peak oxygen uptake (difference of 4.9 ml O2·kg−1·min−1, P = 0.001) compared with their peers not participating in sports. Also, anaerobic fitness, agility, muscle strength, and PA were all positively associated with sports participation. Moreover, the association between sports participation and aerobic fitness was mediated by PA for 31% (P = 0.045). In conclusion, participation in sports is associated with both higher levels of PA and health-related fitness in youth with CDPD. Promotion and stimulation of participation in sports seems a good way to promote health-related fitness as well as a healthy active lifestyle in youth with CDPD.

1Research Group Lifestyle and Health, Institute of Human Movement Studies, University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, the Netherlands;

2Department of Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy Science and Sports, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands;

3Child Development and Exercise Center, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands;

4Center of Excellence in Rehabilitation Medicine, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, and De Hoogstraat Rehabilitation, Utrecht, the Netherlands; and

5Netherlands Institute for Healthcare Services Research (NIVEL), Utrecht, the Netherlands

Address correspondence to Kristel Lankhorst, kristel.lankhorst@hu.nl

Members of the HAYS study group listed in Acknowledgments.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.