How did the Sars-CoV-2 Pandemic affect the Physical Fitness of Primary School Children?

  • Throughout the years 2020 and 2021, schools were temporarily closed to slow the spread of SarsCoV-2. For some periods, children were locked out of sports in schools (physical education lessons, school sports working groups) and organized sports in sports clubs which often resulted in physical inactivity. Did these restrictions affect children’s physical fitness? The EMOTIKON project (www.uni-potsdam.de/emotikon) annually assesses the physical fitness (cardiorespiratory endurance [6-minute-run test], coordination [star-run test], speed [20-m sprint test], lower [standing long jump test] and upper [ball push test] limbs muscle power, and balance [one-legged stance test]) of all third graders in the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany. Participation is mandatory for all public primary schools. In the falls from 2016 to 2021, 83,476 keyage children (i.e., school enrollment according to the legal key date, between eight and nine years in third grade) from 512 schools were assessed with the EMOTIKON test battery. We tested the CovidThroughout the years 2020 and 2021, schools were temporarily closed to slow the spread of SarsCoV-2. For some periods, children were locked out of sports in schools (physical education lessons, school sports working groups) and organized sports in sports clubs which often resulted in physical inactivity. Did these restrictions affect children’s physical fitness? The EMOTIKON project (www.uni-potsdam.de/emotikon) annually assesses the physical fitness (cardiorespiratory endurance [6-minute-run test], coordination [star-run test], speed [20-m sprint test], lower [standing long jump test] and upper [ball push test] limbs muscle power, and balance [one-legged stance test]) of all third graders in the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany. Participation is mandatory for all public primary schools. In the falls from 2016 to 2021, 83,476 keyage children (i.e., school enrollment according to the legal key date, between eight and nine years in third grade) from 512 schools were assessed with the EMOTIKON test battery. We tested the Covid pandemic effect on a composite score of the four highly correlated physical fitness tests assessing cardiorespiratory endurance, coordination, speed and powerLOW and on another composite score of the three running tests (cardiorespiratory endurance, coordination, speed), as well as separately on all six physical fitness components. Secular trends for each of the physical fitness components and differences between schools and children were taken into account in linear mixed models. We found a negative Covid pandemic effect on the two composite physical fitness scores, as well as on cardiorespiratory endurance, coordination, and speed. We found a positive Covid pandemic effect on powerLOW. Coordination was associated with the largest negative Covid pandemic effect, also passing the threshold of smallest meaningful change (SMC, i.e., 0.2 Cohen’s d) when accumulated across two years. Given the educational context, Covid pandemic effects were also compared relative to the expected age-related development of the physical fitness components between eight and nine years. The Covid pandemic-related developmental costs/gains ranged from three to seven months relative to a longitudinal age effect, and from five to 17 months relative to a cross-sectional age effect. We propose that a longitudinal assessment yields a more reliable estimate of the developmental (age-related) gain than a cross-sectional one. Therefore, we consider the smaller Covid pandemic-related developmental costs/gains to be more credible. Interestingly, on the school level, „fitter” schools (relatively higher Grand Mean) exhibited larger negative Covid pandemic effects than schools with a lower physical fitness score. Negative Covid pandemic effects for the three run tasks were also found by Bähr et al. (2022), who tested the physical fitness of 16,496 Thuringian third-graders from 292 schools with the same six physical fitness tests used in EMOTIKON. Our results may be used to prioritize health-related interventions.show moreshow less

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Author details:Paula TeichORCiD, Thea Heidi FühnerORCiDGND, Kathleen GolleORCiDGND, Reinhold KlieglORCiDGND
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus4-560855
DOI:https://doi.org/10.25932/publishup-56085
Publication type:Conference Proceeding
Language:English
Date of first publication:2022/10/24
Publication year:2022
Publishing institution:Universität Potsdam
Release date:2022/10/24
Tag:Covid pandemic effects; EMOTIKON; Linear Mixed Models; Physical fitness; Sars-CoV-2; primary school children
Number of pages:20
Remarks:
Gewünschte Zitationsform: APA

Teich, P., Fühner, T., Golle, K., & Kliegl, R. (2022). „How did the Sars-CoV-2 Pandemic affect the Physical Fitness of Primary School Children?” 54. Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie (asp 2022) in Münster 2022-06-16 (revised 2022-09-09).
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften / Department Sport- und Gesundheitswissenschaften
DDC classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 300 Sozialwissenschaften
Peer review:Nicht referiert
License (German):License LogoKeine öffentliche Lizenz: Unter Urheberrechtsschutz
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