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Is there any relationship between physical activity level and patterns, and physical performance in children?

Aurélie Blaes1, Georges Baquet1*, Claudine Fabre1, Emmanuel Van Praagh2 and Serge Berthoin1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Lille Nord de France, UDSL, EA 4488, Physical Activity - Muscle - Health, Lille, France

2 Blaise Pascal University, UFR STAPS, Laboratory of Exercise Biology (BAPS), EA 3533, Clermont-Ferrand, France

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:122  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-122

Published: 4 November 2011



It is often assumed that physical activity (PA) and physical performance during childhood and adolescence are beneficial for health during adulthood, but a positive relationship between PA and physical performance has not been precisely clarified in children. The lack or the weakness of the relationships between PA and physical performance could be due to the measure of PA. If the use of accelerometry is considered as an objective and common measure of PA, the real patterns of children's habitual PA must be reflected. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the levels and patterns of PA assessed with high frequency accelerometry and physical performance in young children.


Eighty-six boys and 101 girls aged 6-12 years participated in this study. Physical activity was measured over a 7-day period, using a 5-s epoch. Physical performance was assessed by means of EUROFIT tests (anthropometrics, standing broad jump, the 10 × 5 meter shuttle run, the sit-and-reach, the handgrip, the number of sit-ups in 30 seconds, the 20-meter shuttle run).


No relationship was found between PA and physical performance. In boys only, body fatness was negatively associated with vigorous PA (r = -0.38, p < 0.001) and very high PA (r = -0.35, p < 0.01), in contrast to light PA (r = 0.28, p < 0.01), which was positively related to body fatness.


In 6- to- 12 year- old children, the more active children were not the fittest. Our results also underline the need for uniformity in approach to measurement of PA, body composition and health-related fitness between studies.