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THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
Rivista di Medicina, Traumatologia e Psicologia dello Sport
Indexed/Abstracted in: Chemical Abstracts, CINAHL, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
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Original articles EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOMECHANICS
The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2003 Dicembre;43(4):465-74
Growth and physical fitness of Polish youths in two successive decades
Przeweda R., Dobosz J.
Academy of Physical Education, Warsaw, Poland
Aim. The aim of the study was to determine changes in somatic growth and physical fitness of Polish schoolchildren aged 7 to 19 years over the last 2 decades of the 20th century, during which Poland underwent a political and socio-economic transformation. Another objective has been to relate such changes to fathers’ education, which is a comprehensive indicator of socio-economic status.
Methods. The study was conducted on representative random cohorts on 3 occasions: in 1979, 1989 and 1999, the numbers of subjects ranging from 73000 to 230000, i.e. about 1-3% of the total population of that age. Apart from determining basic somatic variables, all children were subjected to 8 tests of the International Committee on the Standardisation of Physical Fitness Tests (ICSPFT), 9 EUROFIT tests and Cooper’s test.
Results. A clear-cut secular trend was observed for body height and mass, the former incrementing by about 2 cm per decade. Ponderal index increased which indicated a slightly excessive slimming tendency, especially in older girls. Physical fitness indices did not parallel the somatic trend, and in the last decade the results were even worse than at the beginning of the study. This was attributed to altered life styles induced by system transformation. When somatic and fitness variables were related to fathers’ education, a markedly pronounced diversification was found – the lower the education, the worse were all indices studied.
Conclusion. It was concluded that special programmes should be designed to improve health-oriented attitudes and physical fitness, especially of children from the lowest social classes, in order to arrest and, possibly, to reverse the progressing decline in physical fitness.