Physical fitness levels and trends of kindergarteners in Hong Kong during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ming Yu Claudia WONG, Kai-ling OU, Wing Sum WONG, Sze Sze HON, Pak Kwong CHUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Background/objectives: The study aimed to examine the physical fitness and activity levels of kindergarteners in Hong Kong during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. 

Methods: A total of 2052 kindergarteners (48% girls; 32.9% Grade 1, 34% Grade 2, and 33.1% Grade 3) were recruited from July 2020 to November 2021. Participants completed the physical fitness tests, including body composition, flexibility, lower-limb muscle strength, upper-limb muscle strength, lower-limb muscle endurance, and agility. Children's physical activity and overall well-being were examined using parental proxy reports. Parents also reported their physical activity and parental support to children's physical activity engagement, as well as their perception of children's kindergarten physical activity environment. Fitness differences by age and gender were analyzed using one-way ANOVA and ANCOVA measuring effect size with partial eta-squared. Additionally, correlations assessed the relationship between children's fitness and parents' proxy reports. Results: The results of the physical fitness tests were higher than those in previous studies conducted by the Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong in 2015–2018. Gender-based differences were observed in most tests for children aged 4 years and older, with boys showing higher scores in the standing long jump, shot put, and balance tests, while girls had higher scores in the sit-and-reach test. Parents' proxy questionnaire answers indicated that children's continuous jump test performances were significantly related to their frequency of physical activity per week (r = 0.19, p < 0.001), and that children's health was significantly and positively correlated with their fitness level (r = 0.179, p < 0.009). Inadequate school physical activity was associated with poor upper-limb strength (r = 0.078, p < 0.005). Moreover, a high level of parental support for their children's participation in physical activity was correlated with a high level of parental participation in vigorous-intensity physical activities (r = 0.167, p < 0.005). 

Conclusion: The physical fitness of children in Hong Kong was less affected by the epidemic. Parents' healthy behaviors and support were related to children's participation in PA. Efforts to improve children's physical fitness and motor development should include parent education and physical activity involvement. Copyright © 2024 The Society of Chinese Scholars on Exercise Physiology and Fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-207
JournalJournal of Exercise Science & Fitness
Volume22
Issue number3
Early online dateMar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Citation

Wong, M. Y. C., Ou, K.-L., Wong, W. S., Hon, S. S., & Chung, P. K. (2024). Physical fitness levels and trends of kindergarteners in Hong Kong during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness, 22(3), 202-207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2024.03.003

Keywords

  • Motor development
  • Behavior
  • Children
  • Family support

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