Motor competence and health-related fitness in children: A cross-cultural comparison between Portugal and the United States

Carlos Luz, Rita Cordovil, Luís Paulo Rodrigues, Zan Gao, Jacqueline D. Goodway, Ryan S. Sacko, Danielle R. Nesbitt, Rick C. Ferkel, Larissa K. True, David F. Stodden

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42 Scopus citations


Background: Motor competence and health-related fitness are important components for the development and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle in children. This study examined cross-cultural performances on motor competence and health-related fitness between Portuguese and U.S. children. Methods: Portuguese (n = 508; 10.14 ± 2.13 years, mean ± SD) and U.S. (n = 710; 9.48 ± 1.62 years) children performed tests of cardiorespiratory fitness (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run), upper body strength (handgrip), locomotor skill performance (standing long jump), and object projection skill performance (throwing and kicking). Portuguese and U.S. children were divided into 2 age groups (6–9 and 10–13 years) for data analysis purposes. A two–factor one–way analysis of covariance (ANOVA) was conducted with the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run, handgrip, standing long jump scores, kicking, and throwing speed (km/h) as dependent variables. Results: Results indicated that Portuguese children, irrespective of sex, presented better performances in locomotor and cardiorespiratory performance (standing long jump and Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run) than U.S. children in both age bands. U.S. children outperformed Portuguese children during throwing and handgrip tests. Kicking tests presented gender differences: Portuguese boys and U.S. girls outperformed their internationally matched counterparts. Conclusion: Cultural differences in physical education curricula and sports participation may impact differences in motor competence and fitness development in these countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Children
  • Cross-cultural comparison
  • Health-related fitness
  • Motor competence


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