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Open AccessArticle

Environmental Correlates of Motor Competence in Children—The Skilled Kids Study

1
Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
2
Physiology, Institute of Biomedicine, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
3
Department of Special Educational Needs and Child Care, University of Groningen, 9712 Groningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 1989; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111989
Received: 13 April 2019 / Revised: 28 May 2019 / Accepted: 31 May 2019 / Published: 4 June 2019
Environment, physical activity (PA) and motor development are tightly interwoven during childhood. We examined the associations of environmental factors with motor competence (MC) in children. Children (N = 945, 50.1% boys, age = 3–7 years, mean = 5.4 years) from 37 childcare centres in the Southern (n = 17), Central (n = 13) and Northern Finland (n = 7) participated. The environmental factors comprised the geographical location (Southern, Central and Northern Finland) and residential density (metropolitan area, city, rural area and countryside) of the childcare centres’ based on postal codes and the national population density registry. MC was measured using the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD)-3, as well as by quantifying time spent outdoors and participation in organised sports via parental questionnaire. It was found that children from the countryside had better MC and spent most time outdoors, while children from the metropolitan area most frequently engaged in organised sports. Gender comparisons revealed that girls outperformed boys in locomotor skills, while boys were better in object control skills, had higher TGMD-3 score and spent more time outdoors. Time spent outdoors and participation in organised sports were associated positively with MC, but not in children from the countryside. In conclusion, higher population density was associated with lower MC and less time spent outdoors. The findings suggest that versatile outdoor environments may support motor development through PA. View Full-Text
Keywords: children; motor competence; environment; geographical location; residential density; outdoor time; participation in sports children; motor competence; environment; geographical location; residential density; outdoor time; participation in sports
MDPI and ACS Style

Niemistö, D.; Finni, T.; Haapala, E.A.; Cantell, M.; Korhonen, E.; Sääkslahti, A. Environmental Correlates of Motor Competence in Children—The Skilled Kids Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1989.

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