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Physical fitness evaluation of school children in southern Italy: A cross sectional evaluation


The aim of this work was to evaluate the fitness levels of different physical components in schoolchildren in southern Italy and identify age-related effects of physical performance. One hundred and fifty-four schoolchildren with ages ranging between 6 and 10 years (age 8.1 ± 1.45 years; 33.70 ± 10.25 kg; 131.50 ± 13.60 cm) were recruited for the investigation. Each scholar underwent a fitness-test battery composed of five elements. A Hand-Grip Strength Test to assess the strength of the hand muscles, a Standing Broad Jump Test to assess lower body explosive strength, a Sit-Up Test to exhaustion to evaluate abdominal muscular endurance, a 4 × 10-m Shuttle Run Test to assess agility, and a 20-m sprint test to assess speed. Cross-sectional analysis revealed that boys perform better than girls and that age affects performance. Lower limb measures show a significant increase after 8 years of age, whereas upper limb measures show a significant increase at 7 and 10 years of age. No age-related differences were found in muscular endurance measures. It is possible to consider age-related performance measures to program exercise interventions that follow the growth characteristics of schoolchildren