Childhood motor skill proficiency as a predictor of adolescent physical activity

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Barnett, LM, van Beurden, E, Morgan, PJ, Brooks, LO & Beard, JR 2009, 'Childhood motor skill proficiency as a predictor of adolescent physical activity', Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 252-259.

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Purpose: Cross-sectional evidence has demonstrated the importance of motor skill proficiency to physical activity participation, but it is unknown whether skill proficiency predicts subsequent physical activity. Methods: In 2000, children's proficiency in object control (kick, catch, throw) and locomotor (hop, side gallop, vertical jump) skills were assessed in a school intervention. In 2006/07, the physical activity of former participants was assessed using the Australian Physical Activity Recall Questionnaire. Linear regressions examined relationships between the reported time adolescents spent participating in moderate-to-vigorous or organized physical activity and their childhood skill proficiency, controlling for gender and school grade. A logistic regression examined the probability of participating in vigorous activity. Results: Of 481 original participants located, 297 (62%) consented and 276 (57%) were surveyed. All were in secondary school with females comprising 52% (144). Adolescent time in moderate-to-vigorous and organized activity was positively associated with childhood object control proficiency. Respective models accounted for 12.7% (p = .001), and 18.2% of the variation (p = .003). Object control proficient children became adolescents with a 10% to 20% higher chance of vigorous activity participation. Conclusions: Object control proficient children were more likely to become active adolescents. Motor skill development should be a key strategy in childhood interventions aiming to promote long-term physical activity.