Linking co-ordinative and fitness training in physical education settings

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To assess whether an enrichment of the co-ordinative demands of physical education (PE) during the curricular time may more efficiently improve co-ordinative abilities than the traditional PE program. One hundred and fifty-two middle school students aged 11-12 years were randomly assigned either to an experimental (n=77) or to a traditional (n=75) PE program lasting 5 months. The experimental intervention was structured in different modules focused on co-ordination abilities. Pre- and post-intervention tests assessed students' fitness (1 mile run/walk, curl-up, flexed arm hang, trunk lift, sit and reach, 30 m run, standing long jump, basketball forward throw) and motor co-ordination abilities (four field tests of kinesthetic discrimination and response orientation ability). After the intervention period, both groups showed a significant increment in most fitness tests. However, only the experimental group showed a significant improvement or a significantly more pronounced improvement than the control group in co-ordinative performances. The results show that both experimental and traditional PE interventions lead to increase physical fitness levels, but only the experimental one also improves co-ordinative abilities. Thus, focusing on a multivariate PE approach linking co-ordination and fitness training seems to add quality to students' experiences without reducing their effectiveness in terms of physical fitness.

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