Physical fitness, particularly cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength, are considered a powerful marker of health in children and adolescents. Based on this evidence, the assessment of physical fitness in youth is now considered highly relevant from a clinical and public health point of view. In this context, the European Commission developed ALPHA Project (Assessing Levels of Physical Activity and Fitness, www.thealphaproject.net) with the aim to establish a battery of tests which are valid and reliable for the health-related fitness assessment in children and adolescents (6 to 18 years). However, such information is not available for younger children, particularly for preschool children aged 3 to 5 years. For this reason, we created the PREFIT project “Assessing fitness in PREschoolers”, which aim was to examine the feasibility and reliability of a physical fitness tests battery, as well as to provide national reference values of physical fitness and to examine sociodemographic and perinatal factors of preschool children. In order to address this overall aim, we developed a new investigation in three phases: 1) a systematic review of the literature focused on which where the most reliable, valid and related to heath fitness tests used in preschoolers; 2) methodological studies in the accuracy and reliability of the measures in this age group; and 3) a multicentre assessment of the fitness level, using the PREFIT fitness test battery (developed from phase 1 and 2), of more 3000 preschoolers of 11 different cities from Spain: Granada, Jaén, Almería y Cádiz (south); Cuenca y Madrid (centre); Castellón de la Plana y Mallorca (east); Zaragoza y Vitoria (north) and Gran Canaria. This project provides for first time an evidence-based fitness test battery (PREFIT) that will allow assessment of fitness in preschoolers and also will initiate a new research line and increase in the knowledge about the relevance of physical fitness in very young people for future health.
Data collection finished. We are currently analysing the data and publishing the results.
The study is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (RYC-2011-09011).
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