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Motor coordination and weight status in children according to area of residence

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Abstract

A good understanding of potential differences in motor coordination and weight status in children from rural and urban areas may advance targeted measures implemented by experts in the field of sports and physical education. This research study is focused on investigating differences in the total motor coordination score and weight status in 70 children aged (7 to 8) living in different residential areas within the territory of the city of Šabac, Republic of Serbia (35 urban and 35 rural areas). The Körperkoordinations Test für Kinder battery of tests was used for the assessment of the overall motor coordination. By application of t-test for independent samples, the obtained results indicate that there are statistically significant differences in the majority of the applied motor tests (walking backward, p=0.000; hop for height on one leg, p=0.033; side jumps, p=0.002), as well as in the total motor coordination scores (p=0.000) in favor of the children from rural environments. The weight status of children indicates no statistically significant differences between the two groups (p=0.376).
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(1): 41-47
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
41
Motor coordination and weight status in children according to area of
residence
Živan Milošević1, 2 Filip Sadri1 Ivo Sadri3
Marijana Sinđić1 Maja Batez1
Received: 5th March, 2021 DOI: 10.31382/eqol.220605
Accepted: 14th February, 2022
© The Author(s) 2022. This article is published with open access.
Abstract
A good understanding of potential differences in
motor coordination and weight status in children
from rural and urban areas may advance targeted
measures implemented by experts in the field of
sports and physical education. This research study is
focused on investigating differences in the total
motor coordination score and weight status in 70
children aged (7 to 8) living in different residential
areas within the territory of the city of Šabac,
Republic of Serbia (35 urban and 35 rural areas).
The Körperkoordinations Test für Kinder battery of
tests was used for the assessment of the overall
motor coordination. By application of t-test for
independent samples, the obtained results indicate
that there are statistically significant differences in
the majority of the applied motor tests (walking
backward, p=0.000; hop for height on one leg,
p=0.033; side jumps, p=0.002), as well as in the total
motor coordination scores (p=0.000) in favor of the
children from rural environments. The weight status
of children indicates no statistically significant
differences between the two groups (p=0.376).
Keywords areas of residence motor coordination
weight status KTK battery of tests.
Introduction
An important factor in proper physical (Denker &
Andersen, 2008; Ortega, Ruiz, Castillo &
Sjostrom, 2008) and mental development in
children (Sibley & Etnier, 2003; Fedewa & Ahn,
2013; Gu, Chang & Solmon, 2016) is considered
participation in various types of physical activities.
Despite the traditional stance that the level of
physical activity in preschool and school-aged
children is significantly higher than in other age
categories and, for the most part, meets the
recommended minimum, scientific research
studies deny this (Keane, Li, Harrington,
Fitzgerald, Perry & Kearney, 2017; Bornstein,
Beets, Byun, & McIver, 2011; Hinkley, Salmon,
Okely, Crawford, & Hesketh, 2012).
Changes in motor abilities take place in certain
socioeconomic conditions characteristic of the
environment in which an individual or a group of
people live and which is made up of a set of
cultural, material, and other factors. The social
standard, level of cultural development, place, and
role of physical education, and social status of
parents and children are merely some of the factors
of the social environment that may indirectly
influence the development of motor skills in the
population living in the given environment, as well
as the degree of participation in sports activities
(Gadžić and Vučković, 2009; Matić, Kuljić, and
Maksimović, 2010). Numerous environmental
filipsadri@uns.ac.rs
1
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sport and
Physical Education, Novi Sad, Serbia
2
Sports Diagnostic Center, Šabac, Serbia
3
Primary School “Đura Daničić”, Novi Sad, Serbia
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(1): 41-47
42
factors may be either stimulating or demotivating in
terms of children’s engagement in physical activity
which may have long-term effects on their
development. All the said factors indirectly affect the
morphological status of children. Some of the
demotivating factors nowadays include
industrialization, mechanization, and robotics.
Prensky (2006a) refers to the children of today as
“digital natives“. They gratify their needs for
company, belonging, and communication sitting in a
chair, in front of a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
As early as 22 years ago, Ruel et al., (1998)
indicated in their research that girls from urban
environments spend most of their spare time reading,
playing computer games or watching TV, while girls
from rural environments spend more time outdoors,
thus enjoying more freedom in play and physical
activity. Data obtained from the EU countries indicate
that children from rural areas mature at an earlier age
in comparison with their peers from urban areas
(Bielicki, 1986). More recent research studies
indicate that the children from urban areas are more
prone to sedentary way of life as opposed to their
peers from rural areas (Özdirenç, Özcan, Akin, &
Gelecek, 2005; Albarwani, Al-Hashmi, Al-Abri, Jaju,
& Hassan, 2009) and the sedentary way of life
contributes to the increase in obesity in children,
which is also confirmed by the studies (Sedell, 2008;
Kosti and Panagiotakos, 2006; Odgen et al., 2006).
The dramatic rise of overweight and obesity has been
recorded among children on global level and
threatens to reach pandemic proportions. On the
country of the Republic of Serbia results on the
prevalence of obesity in children speak of epidemic
proportions (Đorđic et al., 2016). Current rise in the
prevalence of obesity among younger population is
putting children at risk when of chronic illnesses such
as hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes type
2 and development of cardiovascular disease, all of
which have already been associated with obesity in
children (Daniels, 2006). Certain research studies
indicate that the place of residence has no explicit
influence on the level of motor abilities in children
living in urban and rural environments (Tsimeas,
Tsiokanos, Koutedakis, Tsigilis, & Kellis, 2005;
Bathrellou, Lazarou, Panagiotakos, & Sidossis, 2007;
Krombholz, 1997).
Bearing in mind the results of recent studies and
the fact that the need for socialization and physical
activity is vanishing before social networks and
services, the objective of this research is to determine
the existence of differences in the overall level of
motor coordination and weight status in children
according to their area of residence.
Method
Subject
The research study involved 70 boys and girls aged (7
to 8). Based on their residential area, the children
were divided in two groups (35 urban and 35 rural).
The investigation was organized as part of the project
“Bring sports to schools-Grow healthy” that is
approved by the Serbian Ministry of Education,
Science, and Technological Development (Ref. No.
601-00-54/2012-15), and it is under implementation
on the territory of the city of Šabac (Republic of
Serbia). The criteria for inclusion were: that the rural
area is at least 20km away from the city and that the
children are healthy and do not suffer from any
diseases.
Procedures
The respondents performed the tests barefoot and
dressed in sports attire. The tests were conducted in
school gyms, in a predetermined order, by trained
evaluators and professors of sport and physical
education. The respondents were introduced with the
testing purpose and technique. Only physically and
mentally health children able to perform all the tests
were tested. The parents provided written consents
for participation. This research was conducted in
accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the
Declaration of Helsinki.
Urban and rural area
The city of Šabac covers the area of 795km² with a
total of 122.893 residents. Geographical position of
the center point of Šabac lies at grid coordinates
44°46` N and 19°14` E. Šabac is located at 80m above
sea level and is a lowland city situated on flat terrain,
in a valley.
The village of Krivaja is situated at 197 m above
sea level, beneath Cer Mountain (coordinates:
44°33′19″ N and 19°36′07″ E). It is located 29.3km
from the city of Šabac and is characterized by hilly
and mountainous terrain. It covers the area of 23km²
with a total of 812 inhabitants.
Anthropometric measurements
Body height and weight measurements were taken
according to standardized procedures (Lohman et al.,
1988). All the children were barefoot during
measuring. Body height was measured using a
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(1): 41-47
43
stadiometer (“SECA 213”, Hamburg, Germany), with
accuracy of 0.5cm. Body weight was measured using
a Body Composition Monitor “OMRON BF511“
(Omron, Japan) with an accuracy of 0.1kg. BMI is
calculated using formula to indicate the ratio between
weight and height of a person. (BMI = weight
(kg)/height (m2)).
Motor coordination measurements
The KTK battery of tests was used for evaluating
overall motor coordination (Kiphard, & Schilling,
1974) comprising four motor tasks used to test
balance, rhythm, side movement, speed and agility.
The tests battery was customized for 5 to 15-year-
olds, with high reliability (0.90 - 0.97) and validity (r
= 0.60-0.80) (D’Hondt et al., 2013; Lopes et al.,
2011).
Walking backwards The respondent is required
to walk barefoot on the widest beam (6 cm in width)
forwards (as a trial not subject to scoring) and then
immediately backwards, without trials on other
beams. The respondent has 3 attempts on each beam.
Each step is counted and is counted as one point,
where the maximum number of points is 8. When the
child takes seven steps backwards, this is worth 7
points, when the child takes 6 steps, this is worth 6
points. When the child falls off the beam and touches
the floor, the test is stopped and the number of steps
taken before the fall i.e., before touching the floor is
taken into account. When it takes a lesser number of
steps for a child to finish the beam, this is worth 8
points. Maximum number of points is 72 as each
beam must be walked three times.
Moving sideways Moving sideways on a wooden
platform with maximum frequency for 20 seconds;
the test is repeated twice and both results are
recorded. The respondent is required to decide to
which side they will be moving (to the left or to the
right). Once the decision has been made, the
respondent is entitled to two attempts comprising 5
movements of the platform to the preferred side. The
respondent is required to stand on the platform with
both feet and place another platform opposite to the
side the respondent has previously selected. The test
is conducted over a 20-second interval, during which
time the respondent is asked to perform as many
movements of the platform as possible. On the
evaluator’s mark “Ready-Steady-Go“, the respondent
starts moving the platforms and stepping from one
onto another. Each platform is moved using both
hands simultaneously. The responded is required to
lift the platform on the one side and transfer it to the
other side using both hands. The respondents should
be encouraged to move the platforms as fast as
possible and not as far as possible. One platform
movement is counted as 1 point and stepping onto a
platform is counted as another point. The evaluator
counts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The test is repeated two times and
both results are recorded.
Hopping for height on one leg the respondent is
required to perform a one-legged jump over a foam.
Before taking off and after landing, the respondent is
required to make a single one-legged hop in order to
make sure that the child has established balance for
jumping over the foam and for landing. Having
jumped over a foam (5 cm in height), the height is
increased by adding another foam (5cm in height) and
another one, until all 12 foams have been placed or
until the respondent has failed to jump over the foam
(steps on the foam or loses balance, for example) or
after the third attempt. If the respondent is not able to
jump over the foams and land on the opposite leg, the
attempt is not taken into account. The respondent is
entitled to two trials on the right and two trials on the
left leg. The initial height for the respondents aged 7
and 8 is 15cm, while the initial height for 9-year-olds
is 25cm. The respondent is entitled to three attempts
per each height (and per each leg). For a successful
jump at the first attempt, the respondents scores 3
points; for a successful jump at the second attempt,
the respondent scores 2 points, and for a successful
jump at the third attempt, the respondent scores 1
point.
Side jumps Two-legged side jumps in a limited
space, two test repetitions for 15 seconds. The warm-
up is comprised of 5 consecutive side jumps. The
respondent is required to take up an initial position
within one filed, perform as many jumps as possible
over a slat in 15 seconds. The respondent starts the
test on the evaluators mark “Ready-Steady-Go”.
When performing lateral jumps, the respondents are
required to keep their feet together. One point is
scored for each jump. The test is repeated two times
and both results are recorded.
Data analysis
For evaluating differences in the overall level of
motor coordination and weight status between
children from rural and urban environments, a t-test
for independent samples was used. Borderline level
of statistical significance is set at p≤0.05. Statistical
analysis software SPSS (v20.0, SPSS Inc., Chicago,
IL, USA) was used for evaluating statistical
significance.
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(1): 41-47
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Results
Table 1 shows differences in the main descriptive
characteristics between rural and urban children
(arithmetic mean and standard deviation values) and
the results of the t-test for independent samples. By
examining the obtained results, one may conclude
that the students from rural areas achieved higher
scores in most of the tests used to evaluate motor
coordination, as well as in the total motor
coordination score, in comparison with children from
urban areas.
Table 1. Urban-rural differences in the level of motor coordination in younger primary school-age children
Urban
(n = 35)
Variable
Mean±SD
t
p
Body height (cm)
134.85±7.01
-0.088
0.930
Body weight (kg)
31.98±7.61
-0.730
0.468
BMI (kg/m2)
17.50±3.17
-0.892
0.376
Walking backwards (score)
70.63±6.73
5.804
0.000
Moving sideways (score)
84.51±11.17
1.635
0.107
Hop for height on one leg (score)
80.14±9.69
2.173
0.033
Side jumps (score)
79.46±14.52
3.218
0.002
Total KTK (score)
72.31±8.25
4.789
0.000
Statistically significant differences in the
“walking backwards” variable (t=5.804, p=0.000)
were established between rural children
(Mean=86.77) and urban children (Mean=70.63). The
results of the “hopping for height on one leg” variable
indicate that there are statistically significant
differences (t=2.173, p=0.033) in favor of the
children from the rural environment (Mean=87.69) as
opposed to the students from the urban environment
(Mean=80.14). The results of the “side jumps”
variable indicate that there are statistically significant
differences (t=3.218, p=0.002) in favor of the
children from the rural environment (Mean=92.66) in
comparison with the children from the urban
environment (Mean=79.46). The total motor
coordination scores indicate the existence of
statistically significant differences (t=4.789,
p=0.000) in favor of the children from the rural
environment (Mean=86.76) in comparison with the
children from the urban environment (Mean=72.31).
The results of the weight status of children do not
indicate any statistically significant differences (t=-
0.892, p=0.376) between the children from the rural
and those from the urban.
Discussion
In reference to the previous research studies
documenting the importance of physical activity, the
present study was aimed at evaluating differences in
the level of motor coordination in younger elementary
school-age children according to their area of
residence and weight status. The obtained results
indicate that there are statistically significant
differences between rural and urban children in the
majority of motor coordination tests, as well as in the
total motor coordination scores, in favor of the
children form rural environments. The differences in
the weight status between rural and urban children
show no statistical significance; however, the
arithmetic mean results show a lower Body Mass
Index in children from the rural environment.
The results obtained by means of this research are
in line with the previous studies that ventured to
evaluate the differences in the motor abilities between
children living in urban and rural residential areas
(Sylejmani et al, 2019; Tinazci, & Emiroglu, 2009;
Chillón, Ortega, Ferrando, & Casajus, 2011). The
obtained results may also be explained by the fact that
the children from rural areas are able to improve their
level of motor coordination by frequent engagement
in farming activities as life in the countryside
involves various types of tasks, such as gardening,
working in the field or vineyard, preparing firewood,
taking care of the animals, etc. all of which have
contributed to an active lifestyle. On the other hand,
urban city environments fail to stimulate children to
express their motor potential in physical activities
(Molnar, Gortmaker, Bull, & Buka, 2004). The
consequences of urbanization include air pollution,
various changes in air currents, and a decrease in air
EQOL Journal (2022) 14(1): 41-47
45
humidity. Urban residential areas are continuously
expanding and growing, while open courts and sports
facilities are dwindling. The above said leads to a
conclusion that all of these factors have an influence
on the low level of physical activity and increasingly
prevailing sedentary way of life among urban
population, both adults and children. Petrić, Cetinić,
& Novak (2010), Albarwani et al., (2009), Ozdirenc,
et al., (2005) suggest that urban children are more
prone to spending their spare time in front of the TV.
Unlike the urban areas, rural areas provide for more
favorable atmospheric conditions which results in
more time spent in the open, where people are
frequently in close contact with nature. Researchers
have established a link between green areas located in
the vicinity of residential areas and daily activity
patterns of children. Namely, the children who had
sufficiently large green areas in the vicinity of their
abode spent significantly less time in sedentary
activities such as working on a computer and
watching TV (Veitch, Timperio, Crawford, Abbott,
Giles-Corti, & Salmon, 2011).
Increase in the Body Mass Index in children from
urban areas may be linked to eating habits transition
characterized by increased intake of carbohydrates,
added sugars, and fat. In urban residential areas
across Serbia, one can find, more often than not, fast
food restaurants in the vicinity of schools, where
children often buy their meals. Furthermore, modern
way of life has contributed to parents spending less
and less time preparing healthy meals for children
while food is frequently ordered for take-away from
various restaurants. The results of Sylejmani at al.,
(2019), Albarwani et al., (2009), Tinazci, & Emiroglu
(2009) research studies also suggest that the body
mass index is statistically significantly higher in
urban children. The situation in rural areas is
somewhat different. Restaurants and fast-food places
are practically nonexistent and there is a trend of
consuming primarily traditional food characterized
by highly varied, heavy, and spiced food, the
ingredients of which are high in calories. Cooking
food has a special place in the Serbian tradition and
culture, especially in the countryside, thus accounting
for the results obtained by evaluating the difference
in body mass index between rural and urban children,
which is also supported by the results of Tsimeas et
al., (2005) study. The results of McMurray et al.,
(1999) suggest that children in rural areas are 54,7%
more likely to suffer from obesity.
Strength and limitations
Our study has some unique limitations. These
limitations refer to the size of the sample itself, as
well as the relatively narrow geographical area
covered by the research. Future research studies
should assume the approach of testing the
components of physical fitness as related to health in
order to ascertain whether life in the city or in the
countryside contribute to health benefits.
Furthermore, future research should focus on the
socioeconomic aspect in order to obtain a more
comprehensive picture of the way the place of
residence, combined with other environmental
factors, affects the motor abilities in younger primary
school-age children.
Conclusion
The obtained results emphasize the necessity of
developing strategies which would enable the
intensification of physical activity and adoption of
main motor skills through regular school activities
and extracurricular activities starting from the earliest
grades. Bearing in mind that early school years
represent extremely sensitive stage in the
development of motor skills and bearing in mind the
existing tendency towards decrease in physical
activities among younger children, the place of
residence should be taken into account when
implementing effective measures aimed at promoting
physical activity and health. It is important to note
that well designed advanced PE classes may increase
physical activity among the young and should be
widely implemented in schools. What’s more, it is
necessary to raise awareness among schools and
children regarding the importance of proper eating
habits and physical activity.
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How to cite this article:
APA:
Milošević, Ž., Sadri, F., Sadri, I., Sinđić, M., & Batez, M. (2022). Motor coordination
and weight status in children according to area of residence. Exercise and
Quality of Life, 14(1), 41-47. doi:10.31382/eqol.220605
MLA:
Milošević, Živan, et al. "Motor coordination and weight status in children according to
area of residence." Exercise and Quality of Life 14.1 (2022): 41-47.
Chicago:
Milošević, Živan, Filip Sadri, Ivo Sadri, Marijana Sinđić, and Maja Batez. "Motor
coordination and weight status in children according to area of residence."
Exercise and Quality of Life 14, no. 1 (2022): 41-47.
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