Physical education provides opportunities for developmentally appropriate physical activity, usually structured to promote motor skill development, fitness, and health. The relationship between physical activity and physical fitness is complex and bidirectional. Numerous studies have shown a significant relationship between physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness, which may mean that physical activity improves fitness or that physically fit individuals choose to engage in physical activity more than their less fit peers, or both.
Experimental studies have shown that exercise training improves fitness Malina et al.
Conceptual framework illustrating relationships among physical activity, physical fitness, health, and academic performance. While more can always be learned, the evidence for the health benefits of physical activity is irrefutable HHS, , Adults engaged in regular physical activity have lower rates of chronic disease e. And while the ill effects of chronic disease are manifested mainly in adults, it is increasingly better understood that the development of these conditions starts in childhood and adolescence Hallal et al.
It appears evident, then, that promotion of health-enhancing behaviors must also start early in life.
Indeed, growing evidence points to long-term effects of child and adolescent physical activity on adult morbidity and mortality in addition to its more immediate effects Hallal et al. Evidence for both direct and indirect health effects of physical activity has been reported Hallal et al. To understand the relation-. Physical activity has both immediate and long-term health benefits: a Physical activity tends to track; early physical activity is associated with physical activity in subsequent life stages. During the early stages of adolescence, for example, participation in physical activity and corresponding physical fitness begin to decline Duncan et al.
Such differences across stages of development highlight the importance of examining the effects of growth and maturation on physical and cognitive health. Accordingly, this chapter reviews how physical activity may influence developmental processes and other aspects of somatic growth and maturation. A complete review of the effects of physical activity on all tissues and systems is beyond the scope of this report. Rather, the focus is on components of body composition and systems that underlie engagement in physical activity, physical fitness, and chronic disease risk and that in turn influence other aspects of health and academic performance discussed in Chapter 4.
Addressed in turn is the relationship between physical activity and physical, psychosocial, and mental health. Structural and functional brain maturation and how physical activity may influence those developmental processes and cognitive health are also reviewed in Chapter 4. This section reviews what is known about the relationship between physical activity and 1 somatic growth, development, and function and 2 health- and performance-related fitness. Growth occurs through a complex, organized process characterized by predictable developmental stages and events.
History of Fitness
Although all individuals follow the same general course, growth and maturation rates vary widely among individuals. Just as it is unrealistic to expect all children at the same age to achieve the same academic level, it is unrealistic to expect children at the same age to have the same physical development, motor skills, and physical capacity. Regular physical activity does not alter the process of growth and development.
Rather, developmental stage is a significant determinant of motor skills, physical capacity, and the adaptation to activity that is reasonable to expect see Box Postnatal growth is commonly divided into three or four age periods. Infancy spans the first year of life.
Childhood extends from the end of infancy to the start of adolescence and is often divided into early child-. Growth is the normal process of increase in size as a result of accretion of tissues characteristic of the organism; growth is the dominant biological activity for most of the first two decades of life. Changes in size are the outcome of an increase in cell number hyperplasia , an increase in cell size hypertrophy , and an increase in intercellular substances accretion.
Encompassing growth and maturation, development denotes a broader concept; when used in a biological context, development refers to differentiation and specialization of stem cells into different cell types, tissues, organs, and functional units. Development continues as different systems become functionally refined.
Development also refers to the acquisition and refinement of behavior relating to competence in a variety of interrelated domains, such as motor competence and social, emotional, and cognitive competence. Maturation is the timing and tempo of progress toward the mature state and varies considerably among individuals; variation in progress toward the mature state over time implies variation in the rate of change. Two children may be the same size but at different points on the path to adult size or maturity.
Adolescence is more difficult to define because of variation in its onset and termination, although it is commonly defined as between 10 and 18 years of age WHO, The rapid growth and development of infancy continue during early childhood, although at a decelerating rate, whereas middle childhood is a period of slower, steady growth and maturation. Differences between boys and girls are relatively small until adolescence, which is marked by accelerated growth and attainment of sexual maturity Tanner, For example, the head accounts for 25 percent of recumbent length in an infant and only 15 percent of adult height, while the legs account for 38 percent of recumbent length at birth and 50 percent of adult height.
These changes in body proportions occur because body parts grow at different rates. From birth to adulthood, as the head doubles in size, the trunk triples in length, and arm and leg lengths quadruple. Coincident with these changes in body proportions, and in part because of them, the capacity to perform various motor tasks develops in a predictable fashion.http://leondumoulin.nl/language/historical/haunting-near-virtuous-spring.php
For example, running speed increases are consistent with the increase in leg length. Neurological development also determines skill progression. Young children, for example, when thrown a ball, catch it within the midline of the body and do not attempt to catch it outside the midline or to either side of the body. As proximodistal development proceeds, children are better able to perform tasks outside their midline, and by adolescence they are able to maneuver their bodies in a coordinated way to catch objects outside the midline with little effort.
Physically active and inactive children progress through identical stages. Providing opportunities for young children to be physically active is important not to affect the stages but to ensure adequate opportunity for skill development. Sound physical education curricula are based on an understanding of growth patterns and developmental stages and are critical to provide appropriate movement experiences that promote motor skill development Clark, The mastery of fundamental motor skills is strongly related to physical activity in children and adolescents Lubans et al.
Mastering fundamental motor skills also is critical to fostering physical activity because these skills serve as the foundation for more advanced and sport-specific movement Clark and Metcalfe, ; Hands et al.
Physical activity programs, such as physical education, should be based on developmentally appropriate motor activities to foster self-efficacy and enjoyment and encourage ongoing participation in physical activity. Maturation is the process of attaining the fully adult state. In growth studies, maturity is typically assessed as skeletal, somatic, or sexual.
The same hormones regulate skeletal, somatic, and sexual maturation during adolescence, so it is reasonable to expect the effect of physical activity on. Skeletal maturity is typically assessed from radiographs of the bones in the hand and wrist; it is not influenced by habitual physical activity. Similarly, age at peak height velocity the most rapid change in height , an indicator of somatic maturity, is not affected by physical activity, nor is the magnitude of peak height velocity, which is well within the usual range in both active and inactive youth.
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Discussions of the effects of physical activity on sexual maturation more often focus on females than males and, in particular, on age at menarche first menses. While some data suggest an association between later menarche and habitual physical activity Merzenich et al.
While menarche occurs later in females who participate in some sports, the available data do not support a causal relationship between habitual physical activity and later menarche. Puberty is the developmental period that represents the beginning of sexual maturation. It is marked by the appearance of secondary sex characteristics and their underlying hormonal changes, with accompanying sex differences in linear growth and body mass and composition.
Recent research suggests that the onset of puberty is occurring earlier in girls today compared with the previous generation, and there is speculation that increased adiposity may be a cause Bau et al. Conversely, some data suggest that excess adiposity in boys contributes to delayed sexual maturation Lee et al.
Pubescence, the earliest period of adolescence, generally occurs about 2 years in advance of sexual maturity. Typically, individuals are in the secondary school years during this period, which is a time of decline in habitual physical activity, especially in girls. Physical activity trends are influenced by the development of secondary sex characteristics and other physical changes that occur during the adolescent growth spurt, as well as by societal and cultural factors.
Research suggests that physical inactivity during adolescence carries over into adulthood Malina, a,b; CDC, It is critical that adolescents be offered appropriate physical activity programs that take into account the physical and sociocultural changes they are experiencing so they will be inspired to engage in physical activity for a lifetime. As discussed below, adequate physical activity during puberty may be especially important for optimal bone development and prevention of excess adiposity, as puberty is a critical developmental period for both the skeleton and the adipose organ.
Adolescence is the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. The adolescent growth spurt, roughly 3 years of rapid growth, occurs early in this period. An accelerated increase in stature is a hallmark, with about 20 percent of adult stature being attained during this period. Along with the rapid increase in height, other changes in body proportions occur that have important implications for sports and other types of activities offered in physical education and physical activity programs. As boys and girls advance through puberty, for example, biacromial breadth shoulder width increases more in boys than in girls, while increases in bicristal breadth hip width are quite similar.
Consequently, hip-shoulder width ratio, which is similar in boys and girls during childhood, decreases in adolescent boys while remaining relatively constant in girls Malina et al. Ratios among leg length, trunk length, and stature also change during this period. Prior to adolescence, boys have longer trunks and shorter legs than girls Haubenstricker and Sapp, In contrast, adolescent and adult females have shorter legs for the same height than males of equal stature.
Body proportions, particularly skeletal dimensions, are unlikely to be influenced by physical activity; rather, body proportions influence performance success, fitness evaluation, and the types of activities in which a person may wish to engage. For example, there is evidence that leg length influences upright balance and speed Haubenstricker and Sapp, Individuals who have shorter legs and broader pelvises are better at balancing tasks than those with longer legs and narrower pelvises, and longer legs are associated with faster running times Dintiman et al.
Also, longer arms and wider shoulders are advantageous in throwing tasks Haubenstricker and Sapp, , as well as in other activities in which the arms are used as levers.