First graders in Germany are fitter than previously thought

Experts analyzed the results of fitness tests for first graders

More and more children are overweight. This is often attributed to a lack of exercise. The researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) examined how athletic elementary school students are and how good their general fitness was. The experts analyzed the results of fitness tests for first graders over a period of ten years.

In their current study, the doctors at the Technical University of Munich examined how athletic first graders are. The researchers wanted to find out whether a lack of willingness to exercise leads to obesity among first graders. The scientists published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Frontiers in Pediatrics".

No significantly worse results

The results of the study show that the students do not lose any strength within ten years. The speed and speed of the students examined increased even during this period. In boys, however, it was found that endurance deteriorated over time.

The results of previous studies should be questioned

"Contrary to the mostly negative tenor of previous studies, we were able to demonstrate that first graders with regard to sports motor performance have not deteriorated in total over the past ten years," explains author Filip Mess, professor of sports and health didactics at the Technical University Munich in a press release. For this reason, previous studies should perhaps be questioned.

Experts analyze the data from over 5,000 first graders

For their study, the scientists analyzed a data set of fitness tests. The data included a total of 5,001 first graders. Between 2006 and 2015, around 500 first graders per year were examined in the Baden-Baden region. All 18 primary schools in the region were involved in the project.

What tests did the first graders have to take?

The tests examined, for example, how first graders complete a 6-minute run (endurance performance), how many push-ups they could perform (strength), how quickly they completed a sprint over 20 meters (speed) and how well they did exercises Balance sections (balance ability). “These four tests showed a demonstrable deterioration only in the endurance performance of boys. In contrast, this remained constant for girls. The speed and the ability to balance are even better for both sexes, ”explains the author Dr. Sarah Spengler.

Previous research design is prone to distortion

There is a big difference in the current study on previous research projects. All investigations were carried out in each of the ten years. So far, most projects have only used two measurement times. For example, these can be two years apart. Unfortunately, such a research design is very susceptible to bias. For example, a class with completely unsporting students could be examined in one year. A generally very athletic class could then be examined next year.

All primary schools in the region participated in the study

There is another peculiarity of the project, which could have led to more precise results. All of the 18 primary schools in the region were involved in the study. This should ensure that distortions caused by too many urban or regional participants are excluded. "The data are representative of the Baden-Baden region," says Professor Mess.

Can the results be transferred to all of Germany?

However, the regional selection available in the study can also lead to a restriction of the results, the experts explain. The long-term study is certainly more informative than previous research, but the data collected in the process cannot be easily transferred to the whole of Germany. Baden-Baden is a rather wealthy and rural region and other results in other regions of Germany could be found.

Sports motor examinations should be done at every elementary school student in Hesse

The results of the study should lead to future studies on the long-term development of children's motor performance using similar research designs. The scientists advise that so-called sports motor examinations are carried out in all primary school children in Hesse.

Healthy children later become healthy adults

“We were able to show that in the four tests, only the boys deteriorated significantly in terms of endurance performance. Nevertheless, this should not be a reason to pat on the shoulder. Because the data do not say that the children's performance is actually good. They just haven't got any worse, ”explains author Dr. Tinsmith. Adequate exercise in children remains a major challenge because it helps children to become healthy adults. (as)

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