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Many studies have shown a decrease of physical acitivity and fitness during childhood and adolescence in Germany over the last decades.
Objectives: Aim of the present study was to examine associations between motor performance and health-related quality of life in all students of a regional elementary school in a rural area of Hesse. The results were then compared with the nationwide data of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS) in order to prove their meaning dependent on the regional conditions.
Methods: Physical fitness was examined by using the "Deutscher Motorik Test (DMT) 6-18". In addition, anthropometric data and health parameters were assessed. For health-related quality of life (HRQoL) assessment, the health related quality of life questionnaire for children and young people and their parents (KIDSCREEN-27) was applied. Sociodemographic correlates of self-reported and parent-rated wellbeing were also measured. Furthermore, a semi-structured questionnaire was applied to interview teachers about their attitudes towards and their experiences with sports activities and facilities at this school.
Results: Initially, a complete survey was planned, so that all students (10 classes with 193 students) attending this school would have been included in the data collection within the project implementation period. Finally, 161 students took part in the study. At that time one class had swimming lessons, so that study participation was not possible. The overall participation rate was 93.1%.
There was an age- and gender-specific normal distribution. Irrespective of gender and age, the mean values of all anthropometric data ranged between the 25th and 75th percentiles of the KIGGS reference population (Neuhauser et al., 2013, Woll et al., 2017). Size and weight correlated positively with age. Compared to the KIGGS study, male and female students in our study reached values above average in almost all the test items of the "DMT 6-18". Results in the dimensions coordination and aerobic endurance were even significantly better than the reference values. Compared to the reference data, children in this sample scored higher on the KIDSCREEN-27 dimensions. All dimensions of HRQoL were rated as good to very good by both, children and parents. No significant self-reported gender and age differences occurred and parent ratings also showed no gender or age differences. A subgroup analysis of the chronically sick children displayed no differences compared to the healthy children. The teachers’ survey yielded excellent internal and external sports activities and facilities. The cooperation with local sport clubs was rated to be well established. However, a special space for promoting motor skills in cooperation with school social workers and experts in motology would be desirable, but there were no funds available for this.
Conclusions: The students have above-average sport motor skills compared to national reference data. This seems to be the result of a school setting offering many internal and external sports activities. Besides, the consistent positive results with regard to HRQoL show that a good family environment is also an important factor for skills development.
The study underlines the importance of an active lifestyle and a supportive environment as good prerequisites for the development of physical performance in childhood.
One important aspect of this regional study is its relevance in terms of sustainability, since the results can be used as baseline data for follow-up studies and measures in in the lifeworld of children and adolescents.