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European normative values for physical fitness in children and adolescents aged 9–17 years: results from 2 779 165 Eurofit performances representing 30 countries

Abstract

Objective To develop sex-specific and age-specific normative values for the nine Eurofit tests in European children and adolescents aged 9–17 years.

Methods A systematic review was undertaken to identify papers that explicitly reported descriptive results for at least one of nine Eurofit tests (measuring balance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, muscular power, flexibility, speed, speed-agility and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF)) on children and adolescents. Data were included on apparently healthy (free from known disease/injury) children and adolescents aged 9–17 years. Following harmonisation for methodological variation where appropriate, pseudodata were generated using Monte Carlo simulation, with population-weighted sex-specific and age-specific normative centiles generated using the Lambda Mu Sigma (LMS) method. Sex-specific and age-specific differences were expressed as standardised differences in means, with the percentage of children and adolescents with healthy CRF estimated at the sex-age level.

Results Norms were displayed as tabulated centiles and as smoothed centile curves for the nine Eurofit tests. The final dataset included 2 779 165 results on children and adolescents from 30 European countries, extracted from 98 studies. On average, 78% of boys (95% CI 72% to 85%) and 83% of girls (95% CI 71% to 96%) met the standards for healthy CRF, with the percentage meeting the standards decreasing with age. Boys performed substantially (standardised differences >0.2) better than girls on muscular strength, muscular power, muscular endurance, speed-agility and CRF tests, but worse on the flexibility test. Physical fitness generally improved at a faster rate in boys than in girls, especially during the teenage years.

Conclusion This study provides the largest and most geographically representative sex-specific and age-specific European normative values for children and adolescents, which have utility for health and fitness screening, profiling, monitoring and surveillance.

  • physical fitness
  • children
  • health
  • adolescent
  • aerobic fitness

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