University of Limerick
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Profiling the health-related physical fitness of Irish adolescents: A school-level sociodemographic divide

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Background and aims Examining factors that may explain disparities in fitness levels mong youth is a critical step in youth fitness promotion. The purpose of this study was twofold; 1) to examine the influence of school-level characteristics on fitness test performance;2) to compare Irish adolescents’ physical fitness to European norms. Methods Adolescent s (n = 1215, girls = 609) aged 13.4 years (SD .41) from a randomised sample of 20 secondary schools, stratified for gender, location and educational (dis)advantage, completed a series of field-based tests to measure the components of health-related physical fitness. Tests included: body mass index; 20 metre shuttle run test (20 m SRT); handgrip strength; standing broad jump (SBJ); 4 x 10 metre shuttle run; and back-saver sit-and-reach (BSR). Results Overall, boys outperformed girls in all tests, aside from the BSR (p < 0.005, t-test, Bonferroni correction). Participants in designated disadvantaged schools had significantly higher body mass index levels (p < 0.001), and significantly lower cardiorespiratory endurance (20 m SRT) (p < 0.001) and muscular strength (handgrip strength) (p = 0.018) levels compared to participants in non-disadvantaged schools. When compared to European norms, girls in this study scored significantly higher in the 20 m SRT, 4 x 10 metre shuttle run and SBJ tests, while boys scored significantly higher in the BSR test (Cohen’s d 0.2 to 0.6, p < 0.001). However, European adolescents had significantly higher handgrip strength scores (Cohen’s d 0.6 to 0.8, p < 0.001).





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Other Funding information

BOK, Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship



Also affiliated with

  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

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  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Physical Education and Sports Science

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