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Commentary on “Motor Competence and Physical Fitness in Adolescents”

Hoyt, Emily R. PT, DPT; Rapport, Mary Jane PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA

Author Information
Pediatric Physical Therapy: April 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 1 - p 75
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000007
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“How should I apply this information?”

This study suggests that motor competence is not essential in adolescents to achieve or maintain physical fitness. Assessments of motor competence and physical fitness were used to examine this relationship. The analyses demonstrated a significant, but small, correlation between motor competence and physical fitness across the study sample, especially in girls. Despite a lack in correlation between physical fitness and ball skills or manual dexterity, there was a significant correlation between physical fitness and balance (defined as a part of motor competence), suggesting that balance is an important component of all movements. Adolescents may self-select physical activities (eg, walking and jogging) that rely less on motor competence than on activities that involve coordination, dexterity, and ball skills, allowing them opportunities to maintain fitness despite reduced motor coordination.

“What should I be mindful about in applying this information?”

Physical fitness tests measure physiological components, including endurance, strength, and flexibility. Motor performance tests focus on coordination, balance, and dexterity. Although movement includes components of both physical fitness and motor competence, the constructs of the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 and the physical fitness test items measure 2 different aspects of performance. When selecting activity measures, we need to remember that what we choose to measure and how we measure it may affect our physical therapy outcomes. Motor competence is not essential for increasing fitness levels in adolescents; however, this study did not address self-selection of activities. If we allow self-selection of fitness activities, the potential of increasing adherence and participation may prove to be an unintended consequence. Although this study was conducted in Norway, the findings seem to be applicable to adolescents in the United States and other countries with similar economics and health care.

Emily R. Hoyt, PT, DPT

JFK Partners, University of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado

Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA

Physical Therapy Program, University of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association.