Fitness Mediates Motor Skills and Physical Activity in Hispanic Children

Friday, April 26, 2013: 7:45 AM
201AB (Convention Center)
Tao Zhang1, Katherine T. Thomas1 and Zan Gao2, (1)University of North Texas, Denton, TX, (2)University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Background/Purpose: Despite public health efforts promoting physical activity (PA), the majority of Hispanic children do not meet national PA recommendations. Hispanic childhood obesity has dramatically increased in the past decades and has been a significant health concern. Given that childhood motor skills is critical to fitness and lifetime PA, this study attempted to examine the mediating role of fitness on relationships between motor skills and PA.

Method: 143 (77 boys; M age = 11.1 years) Hispanic children from an elementary school completed motor skills in basketball, overhand throwing, and striking assessed by PE Metrics TM (NASPE, 2010). Their fitness was assessed by FITNESSGRAM. The total number of six fitness tests in which students achieved the Healthy Fitness Zone was calculated and used as an overall measure of fitness. They completed validated surveys assessing their PA one week later.

Analysis/Results: Three motor skills were associated with one another. Fitness was related to motor skills and PA. Path analyses indicated the hypothesized model fit to the data: χ/df = .73; CFI = 1.0; RMSEA = .01. The model accounted for 13.0% and 2.9% of the variances in fitness and PA, respectively. Striking (β = .32) directly predicted fitness, which in turn significantly predicted PA (β = .17). The effect of striking on PA was fully mediated via fitness. No direct effect was found between basketball, overhand throwing, and PA.

Conclusions: The results suggested fitness was a mediator between motor skills and PA. The findings have promising implications for practitioners to promote Hispanic children's PA.