Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies
Dr. Con Burns
Dr. Cian O'Neill
Dr. Edward Coughlan
Background: Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are basic observable patterns of movement. Although FMS are positively associated with health, FMS levels among children worldwide are low. Interventions to improve FMS and markers of health among children are warranted. Thus, the purpose of this research was to firstly evaluate the FMS proficiency and markers of health of Irish primary school children, and to design and implement a programme of interventions to improve both.
Methods: Two interventions (1 Physical Activity [PA] and 1 FMS) were implemented and evaluated using children from 3 primary schools in Cork. Children (N=217, mean age: 7.98±2.00 years) from senior infants (n=107, mean age: 6.00±0.40 years) and 4th class (n=110, mean age: 9.91±0.40 years) participated in the PA intervention evaluation. Children (N=466, mean age: 8.54±2.09 years) from senior infants and 1st class (n=222, mean age: 6.45±0.62 years), and 4th and 5th class (n=244, mean age: 10.44±0.59 years) participated in the FMS intervention evaluation. The Test of Gross Motor Development-2 was used to measure FMS proficiency. Other measures recorded were: height, mass, waist circumference (WC), heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference-to-height ratio (WHtR). Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) (measured using the 550m run/walk), physical activity (PA) (measured via accelerometry) and perceived FMS competence (measured using the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence) were also recorded. Correlation and regression analyses were used to investigate the relationship between FMS and markers of health (BMI percentile, WC percentile, HR, BP percentile, 550m time SDS and PA). Repeated measures ANOVAs and ANCOVAs were used to examine the effectiveness of the two interventions on FMS and markers of health.
Results: Although there were no significant relationships revealed between FMS and BMI, heart rate and BP, significant positive relationships were found with CRF (6 and 10 year olds respectively: r=.286 and r=.330; p<0.01) and PA levels across the whole cohort (light and total: r=.413 and r=.351 p<0.05). After adjusting for age and sex, FMS explained 15.9% and 20.5% of the variance in CRF among 6 and 10 year olds respectively, and 9.7% and 14.4% of the variance in light and total PA across the whole cohort. Results revealed that a 6-month specialist-led PA intervention, that involved two 25-minute PA sessions per week and the encouragement of 20 minutes daily MVPA during class time, had no significant impact on children’s FMS. There were positive intervention effects for WC SDS among 6 (p<0.01, ηp2=0.298, large effect size) and 10 year olds (p<0.01, ηp2=0.061, medium effect size). There were also positive intervention effects for WC (p<0.01, ηp2=0.280, large effect size) and WHtR (p<0.01, ηp2=0.288, large effect size) among 6 year olds, and 550m time SDS (p<0.01, ηp2=0.115, medium effect size) among 10 year olds. A tailored, specialist-led 26-week multicomponent FMS-based intervention consisting of FMS-based sessions, the distribution of FMS promotional material, teacher training and PA initiatives, positively affected the FMS of 6 (p<0.01, ηp2=0.454, large effect size) and 10 year olds (p<0.01, ηp2=0.446, large effect size). There were positive intervention effects for BMI (p<0.05, ηp2=0.045, small effect size) and BMI SDS (p<0.05, ηp2= 0.073, medium effect size) among 6 year olds and BMI SDS (p<0.05, ηp2=0.026, small effect size), HR (p<0.01, ηp2=0.050, small effect size) and 550m time SDS (p<0.05, ηp2=0.045, small effect size) among 10 year olds.
Conclusion: While a generic PA intervention had favourable effects on children’s adiposity levels, it failed to positively impact on FMS. However, a specifically designed FMS-based intervention was subsequently effective at improving FMS while concurrently reducing adiposity and enhancing CRF. Thus, FMS-based interventions should be implemented in Irish primary schools to improve both FMS and health.
Bolger, Linda, "An Investigation into te Relationship Between Fundamental Movement Skill Proficiency and Markers of Health Among a Cohort of Irish Primary School Children" (2018). PhDs [online].
Available at: https://sword.cit.ie/humdiss/2
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