A child's proficiency in fundamental movement skills such as running, jumping, skipping and hopping could lead to a healthier life and lower the risk of heart disease and obesity, research has found.
In a paper published in the European Journal of Sports Science, researchers from Dublin City University (DCU) examined the relationship between these basic movements and a range of physical fitness including flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, body composition, muscular strength and endurance.
Fundamental movement skills are regarded as the “building blocks” for more advanced movement that allow children to participate in physical activity.
Children took part in a range of age-appropriate activities that examined their muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and body composition.
The study results suggested that improving them in children could lead to improvements in body composition by up to 25 per cent; in muscular strength by up to 50 per cent, and improve cardiovascular endurance by over 16 per cent.
The study was the first to look across the full range of primary school children, aged from five to 12 years. Over 2,000 children were assessed.
It was part of Moving Well Being Well, a collaborative physical literacy research project between DCU’s School of Health & Human Performance, the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, and the GAA.
DCU's Dr Stephen Behan said giving children such basic movement skills will indirectly affect health related fitness for the good.
“[This] in turn will lead to health benefits such as decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, decreased risk of obesity, increased bone density, increased mental health, and much more,” he said.
However, while promising, children’s ability to master even basic physical actions has not always been sufficient.
A separate piece of DCU research published this time last year found one in four primary school children could not run properly and were lacking in basic movement skills. Half could not kick a ball properly and less than one in every five could not throw a ball.
Skill such as running, jumping, catching and kicking were found to plateau and stop progressing when children reach the age of 10.