PURPOSE:The aims of this study were to i) investigate the relationship between childhood motor skill proficiency and adolescent physical activity participation, cardiorespiratory endurance (fitness) and perceived sports competence, ii) assess the long-term impact of a one year primary school intervention to improve motor skills on physical activity and motor skill proficiency and iii) determine whether the observed relationships varied according to gender.METHODS: The Physical Activity and Skills Study (PASS) followed up participants of a primary school intervention (Move It Groove It - MIGI) to improve motor skill proficiency. Participants were initially assessed in 2000 as part of the intervention. In 2006/07, they were re-assessed for motor skill proficiency and also measured for physical activity level (Adolescent Physical Activity Recall Questionnaire), cardiorespiratory fitness (Multistage Fitness Test) and perceived sports competence (Physical Self-Perception Profile). Composite object control (kick, catch, throw) and locomotor (hop, side gallop, vertical jump) skill scores were constructed for analysis.
Linear regressions examined relationships between childhood skill proficiency and adolescent: i) time in physical activity intensities and type, controlling for gender and school grade and ii) cardiorespiratory fitness, controlling for gender. Structural equation modelling was used to determine whether perceived sports competence mediated between childhood object control skill proficiency and subsequent adolescent physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness. A general linear model examined the relationship between being an intervention/control student and time in physical activity adjusting for childhood skill and gender. RESULTS:From 928 original participants in 2000, 481 were located in 28 schools and 276 (57%) were assessed with at least one follow-up measure in 2006/07. Slightly more than half were female (52.4%) with a mean age of 16.4 years (range 14.2 to 18.3 yrs). Childhood object skill proficiency significantly impacted on later skill proficiency, physical activity and fitness, for both genders. Furthermore, perceived sports competence acted as a mediator between childhood object control skill proficiency and subsequent adolescent physical activity and fitness. Locomotor proficiency was not predictive of any outcome variable. Six years after the intervention, participants from the intervention schools still performed better than controls in one object control skill, but were no more active.CONCLUSION:
Childhood proficiency in object control skills is an important influence on subsequent positive health-related behaviours and outcomes. Childhood interventions to improve object control skills may have a lasting impact. Results may inform intervention designs to promote physical activity and fitness in youth.