Physical fitness in children and adolescents in rural and urban areas

Blerim Sylejmani, Nazim Myrtaj, Arben Maliqi, Seryozha Gontarev, Georgi Georgiev, Ruzdija Kalac

Abstract

Objective: the aim of the research was to determine the differences in fitness components among children and adolescents from urban and rural areas. Design/method: A sample of 5076 school children (2877) and adolescents (2199) from urban and rural areas from the region of Strumica (Macedonia). Physical fitness is estimated with 7 tests and that: standing long jump, sit-ups, bent arm hang, handgrip, sit and reach, speed-agility, shuttle run 4x10 and three-minute step test. The differences in fitness tests, anthropometric measures and body composition by place of residence were examined by one-way analysis of covariance. Results: Rural children and adolescent have lower height, body mass BMI and body fat % and had higher muscular mass % cardiorespiratory fitness and speed-agility (all p < 0.001), than urban young people. Regarding muscular fitness, the results differed depending on the fitness test selected. Rural children and adolescent had a better performance in standing long jump, handgrip strength bent arm hang while they had a lower performance in sit-ups in 30 s (all p < 0.001), compared to their urban peers. Effect size was small-medium (Cohen’s d = 0.1–0.5). Conclusion: children and adolescents from the rural environment show better results in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle fitness of the upper and lower extremities and have better coordination, speed and agility in comparison with their urban peers. The place of residence, apart from other environmental factors, should be taken into account when building a state strategy and interventions through which it will promote physical activity and health.

Keywords

Physical fitness; Residence characteristics; Children; Adolescents

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2019.144.15





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