Physical fitness levels in Japanese children are lower than those in the 1980s. Twenty‐four hour movement guidelines were recently developed to improve both present and future health of children. This study examined whether meeting the 24 h movement guidelines was associated with physical fitness measures in primary school children.
Participants were 243 Japanese children (9.4 ± 1.7 years). Moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was evaluated using accelerometry. Sleep duration and screen time were reported. Physical fitness was assessed by grip strength, sit‐ups, sitting trunk flexion, and 20 m shuttle run test. Meeting the 24 h movement guidelines was defined as: 9–11 h / night of sleep, ≤2 h/day of screen time, and at least 60 min/day of MVPA. The associations between physical fitness and the recommendations were analyzed using analysis of covariance.
Children meeting the MVPA recommendation alone performed better on the 20 m shuttle run and sit‐up test compared to those not meeting the recommendation (number of laps: 41 vs 36, P = 0.009 and number of repetitions: 16.3 vs 14.7, P = 0.021). Children meeting the combination of MVPA and sleep recommendation scored significantly higher on the sit‐up test compared to those not meeting the recommendations (number of repetitions: 16.5 vs 15.0, P = 0.038) but the effect was similar to that of the MVPA reference only. Meeting all three 24 h movement guidelines was not associated with measures of fitness in this sample. Meeting the MVPA recommendation was associated with greater aerobic fitness and muscle endurance.
In order to enhance children’s physical fitness, public health recommendations should primarily target MVPA.
Senior Scientist and Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity, CHEO Research Institute