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Medicina dello Sport 2010 June;63(2):221-37


language: English, Italian

Gender differences in neuromotor fitness of rural South African children

Amusa L. O., Goon D. T., Amey A. K.

Centre for Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Science, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa


Aim. Several studies have shown that physical fitness in childhood and adolescence is associated with cardiovascular risk in adulthood, and some of these studies have also expressed declined levels of fitness in children nowadays. The study aimed to evaluate gender related neuromotor activities of rural South African school children in Tshannda.
Methods. Body mass, stature and performance on neuromotor fitness items were measured using the modified EUROFIT and AAPHERD battery of tests in a representative sample of Tshannda children (n = 409; 193 boys and 216 girls).
Results. The sit-and-reach test which measures the lower back/upper thigh flexibility indicated a significant sex mean difference between boys (26.4±5.3 cm) and girls (29.3±5.1 cm) (p <0.05). The sit-up test was 27.7±9.7 and 28.7±10.0 for the boys and girls, respectively, which indicated slight significant difference. Boys at all grades had significantly higher push-up (30.8±9.2) compared to girls (26.2±8.9) (p =0.05). The right hand grip test showed a significant mean difference between boys (12.2±11.1 kg) and girls (9.2±8.5 kg) (p<0.05). The right arm grip test indicated that boys had a slightly higher, but significant grip (18.1±9.8) strength, compared to girls (17.1±10.0) (p<0.05). Similarly, boys performed significantly better (120.6±25.6) than the girls (114.7±22.8) (p<0.05) in standing broad jump. In the 50m sprint, girls had higher (11.1±1.6) mean values than boys (10.6±1.2), although the difference was practically insignificant. Standing broad jump increased with increasing grade levels in boys; the same pattern was observed in girls, except at grade 5 where it declines before increasing again. The 50 m sprint decreases with increasing grade levels in both sexes. Agility shows a downward trend in both sexes and across grade levels
Results. Progressive increase/improvement in the neuromotor performance values was noticeable from grades 1-7. Generally, boys performed higher in tests requiring moving the body, power and strength than girls. Girls were superior to boys in the tests of flexibility. Gender differences in neuromotor fitness were observable, which stresses the importance of our data in the establishment of gender-specific normative data.

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