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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2009 June;62(2):135-47


language: English, Italian

Musculoskeletal fitness in Nigerian school children

Goon D. T., Toriola A. L., Shaw B. S.

1 M. Tech Clinical, Sport and Exercise Technology, Faculty of Science Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa 2 Exercise Physiology, Faculty of Science, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa 3 Department of Sport, Rehabilitation and Dental Sciences, Faculty of Science Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa


Aim. The purpose of this study was to examine age and gender differences in muscular strength and flexibility among primary school children and to compare the findings with data for school-going children from other countries.
Method. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 2 015 primary school children in Makurdi, Nigeria (N.=979 boys; N.=1 036 girls) aged 9-12 years, who performed the FITNESSGRAM (CIAR, 2000) physical fitness tests.
Results. A non-significant difference in flexibility was found between boys (mean: 27.1±4.4 cm) and girls (mean: 26.9±4.6 cm) (P=0.851; P>0.05). ANOVA test indicated no significant sex main effect on flexibility test scores (F(1, 2007)=0.027; P>0.05), whereas this yielded a substantial age main effect (F(3, 2007)=3.407; P<0.05). On average, boys had a slight, but significantly superior push-up performance (9.1±3.9) compared to girls (8.6±3.5) (P=0.04; P<0.05). Results also indicated substantial age difference in push-up scores among boys and girls (F(1, 3)=11.1; P<0.05). There were no significant age/ sex interaction effect (F(3, 2007)=1.396; P>0.05) and sex main effect in the sit-up performances for the boys and girls (P=0.188; P>0.05). Boys had significantly (P<0.05) higher mean sit-up values, at ages 10 and 12, whereas no statistically significant sex main effect was found regarding the children’s sit-up scores (F(1, 2007)=1.134; P>0.05).
Conclusion. Whereas the study showed non-significant sex and age differences in flexibility between boys and girls, marked age- and gender- related discrepancies were found regarding muscular strength. The muscular endurance component showed inconsistent results across age groups. Compared with children from American and European countries, Nigerian children had low musculoskeletal fitness.

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