According to a new Finnish study, unlike popularly believed, being aerobically fit is not linked to better motor skills. “Also, aerobic fitness was not strongly associated with overweight or obesity. Therefore, it seems that the role of poor aerobic fitness as a risk factor for poor motor skills and excess body weight has been strongly exaggerated,” read the study published in Translational Sports Medicine.
According to general perception, fit kids also have good motor skills, while low aerobic fitness has been thought to be a link between poor motor skills and weight.
The study investigated the associations between aerobic fitness, body fat content, and motor skills in 332 children aged 7 to 11 years. Aerobic fitness was measured by maximum bicycle ergometer test and body composition with bioimpedance and DXA devices. Motor skills were measured by common methods.
“The key message of our study is that even a child who is unfit can be motorically adept and the heart of a clumsier kid can be as fit as her or his more skilful peer,” Haapala says. “In addition, high levels of varied physical activity and reduced sedentary behaviour are central to the development of motor skills and the prevention of excess weight gain since childhood.”
While the study, conducted at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä and the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Eastern Finland, did not look at the role of exercise in the development of motor skills, earlier studies have shown that a range of exercise, varying in motor challenges and intensity, contributes to the development of motor skills, regardless of aerobic fitness and body fat content.