Fundamental Movement Skills in Children and Adolescents: Review of Associated Health Benefits

Authors: Lubans, David R.1; Morgan, Philip J.1; Cliff, Dylan P.2; Barnett, Lisa M.3; Okely, Anthony D.2

Source: Sports Medicine, 1 December 2010, vol. 40, no. 12, pp. 1019-1035(17)


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The mastery of fundamental movement skills (FMS) has been purported as contributing to children's physical, cognitive and social development and is thought to provide the foundation for an active lifestyle. Commonly developed in childhood and subsequently refined into context- and sport-specific skills, they include locomotor (e.g. running and hopping), manipulative or object control (e.g. catching and throwing) and stability (e.g. balancing and twisting) skills. The rationale for promoting the development of FMS in childhood relies on the existence of evidence on the current or future benefits associated with the acquisition of FMS proficiency. The objective of this systematic review was to examine the relationship between FMS competency and potential health benefits in children and adolescents. Benefits were defined in terms of psychological, physiological and behavioural outcomes that can impact public health. A systematic search of six electronic databases (EMBASE, OVID MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus and SportDiscusĀ®) was conducted on 22 June 2009. Included studies were cross-sectional, longitudinal or experimental studies involving healthy children or adolescents (aged 3–18 years) that quantitatively analysed the relationship between FMS competency and potential benefits. The search identified 21 articles examining the relationship between FMS competency and eight potential benefits (i.e. global self-concept, perceived physical competence, cardio-respiratory fitness [CRF], muscular fitness, weight status, flexibility, physical activity and reduced sedentary behaviour). We found strong evidence for a positive association between FMS competency and physical activity in children and adolescents. There was also a positive relationship between FMS competency and CRF and an inverse association between FMS competency and weight status. Due to an inadequate number of studies, the relationship between FMS competency and the remaining benefits was classified as uncertain. More longitudinal and intervention research examining the relationship between FMS competency and potential psychological, physiological and behavioural outcomes in children and adolescents is recommended.

Keywords: Children; Exercise; Exercise-therapy; Movement; Sports-medicine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1 School of Education, University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia 2: 2 Interdisciplinary Educational Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia 3: 3 Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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