Special Issue "Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Cristina Cadenas-Sanchez
Website
Guest Editor
1. MOVE-IT Research Group, Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education Sciences University of Cádiz, Cádiz, Spain
2. Department of Health Sciences, Public University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Interests: physical activity; physical fitness; brain health; obesity; nutrition
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Pontus Henriksson
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition; Karolinska Institutet
Interests: physical activity and fitness, nutrition, obesity, body composition
Dr. Idoia Labayen
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Guest Editor
Department of Health Sciences, Public University of Navarra, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
Interests: exercise; nutrition; obesity; body composition; hepatic fat
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Physical fitness is a powerful marker of health in children and adolescents. It is known that a set of physical fitness components such as cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and speed–agility is related with different health outcomes in youth (e.g., body composition, cardiometabolic risk factors, brain health, cognition, or academic achievement among others). Furthermore, evidence suggests that physical fitness status during childhood might result in health benefits during adulthood.

Physical activity refers to any bodily movement requiring energy expenditure, which includes a wide variety of behaviors such as washing dishes, walking, dancing, or playing basketball. Physical activity is the most effective behavior to improve physical fitness during childhood. While a sedentary lifestyle can hamper these improvements in fitness. However, physical inactivity in childhood is alarming worldwide, with nearly 80% of children and adolescents not meeting physical activity guidelines proposed by the World Health Organization. Considering both behavioral physical behaviors and their effect on physical fitness might shed light on relevant information for researchers, clinicians, and policymakers, which could result in important implications for public health.

This Special Issue welcomes original, review, and meta-analyses studies in any subject area related to physical fitness, physical activity, and their relationship with health outcomes in youth.

Dr. Cristina Cadenas-Sanchez
Dr. Pontus Henriksson
Dr. Idoia Labayen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Physical fitness
  • Physical activity
  • Brain health
  • Nutrition
  • Body composition
  • Cardiovascular risk factors
  • Health outcomes
  • Youth

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Nine Months of a Structured Multisport Program Improve Physical Fitness in Preschool Children: A Quasi-Experimental Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 4935; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17144935 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Research in preschool children that investigates the impact of different exercise interventions on physical fitness is limited. This pre–post study was aimed at determining if participation in a nine-month structured multisport program (MSG; n = 38) could enhance physical fitness components compared to [...] Read more.
Research in preschool children that investigates the impact of different exercise interventions on physical fitness is limited. This pre–post study was aimed at determining if participation in a nine-month structured multisport program (MSG; n = 38) could enhance physical fitness components compared to a formal exercise program (control group (CG); n = 36) among preschool children. Physical fitness was assessed using standardized tests (the standing long jump, sit and reach, 20 m sprint, sit-ups for 30 s, bent-arm hang, medicine ball throw (MBT), grip strength, 4 × 10 m shuttle run, and 20 m shuttle run tests). The structured multisport program involved fundamental/gross and fine motor skills and ball game-based exercises twice a week. The control group was free of any programmed exercise except for the obligatory program in kindergartens. A mixed ANOVA demonstrated significant group-by-time interaction effects for the 4 × 10 m shuttle run, standing long jump, sit-ups, bent-arm hang, grip strength, and sit and reach tests (p < 0.05). There was no significant group-by-time interaction effect for the 20 m sprint test (p = 0.794) or for the 20 m shuttle run test (p = 0.549). Moreover, the MSG and CG performance in the MBT and 20 m shuttle run tests improved to a similar extent from pre- to post-test. Our results indicate that compared to the formal plan, the structured multisport program led to a sustained improvement in physical fitness in healthy 5-to-6-year old children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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Open AccessArticle
Physical Activity Levels of Chilean Children in a National School Intervention Programme. A Quasi-Experimental Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4529; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124529 - 23 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background. Recess is a great opportunity to interrupt sedentary behaviour and increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in schoolchildren. This quasi-experimental study aimed to compare the levels of physical activity (PA) during the school day of children in a school intervention programme vs. [...] Read more.
Background. Recess is a great opportunity to interrupt sedentary behaviour and increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in schoolchildren. This quasi-experimental study aimed to compare the levels of physical activity (PA) during the school day of children in a school intervention programme vs. those in a control group, and to determine compliance with MVPA recommendations. Methods. A sample of 154 schoolchildren (6–12 years old) was obtained from several schools (70 with the intervention and 84 controls). This programme was structured with a duration of 90 min/session and performed three times/week. PA levels were recorded with triaxial accelerometers during the school day: during recess, during a PA session or physical education session (PE), and during lunchtime. No pre-intervention evaluation was performed. Results. The MVPA of the control group was higher than that of the intervention group during the first recess (p < 0.001). None of the groups complied with the recommendations for steps during the PA or PE sessions. During the PA session, sedentary time was lower and MVPA was higher, in the intervention group than in the control group. Fifty percent of the children from the intervention group complied with the MVPA recommendations, vs. 22.7% of those in the control group. Conclusions. The schoolchildren in the intervention group performed more MVPA than those in the control group. Future interventions could include other periods, such as recess and lunchtime, which are opportunities for improving the MVPA levels of schoolchildren. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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Open AccessArticle
Association of Physical Fitness with Intelligence and Academic Achievement in Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4362; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124362 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Physical fitness, intelligence and academic achievement are being studied from a multidisciplinary perspective. In this line, studies to advance our understanding of intelligence and academic achievement could be relevant for designing school-based programs. Our study analyzed the relationship between components of physical fitness [...] Read more.
Physical fitness, intelligence and academic achievement are being studied from a multidisciplinary perspective. In this line, studies to advance our understanding of intelligence and academic achievement could be relevant for designing school-based programs. Our study analyzed the relationship between components of physical fitness including cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and flexibility and general intelligence and academic achievement in adolescents. We recruited 403 adolescents (53.6% boys) with a mean age of 13.7 ± 1.2 years from a secondary school in Spain with a medium socioeconomic status, during the 2015/2016 school year. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed by the 20-m shuttle run, muscular strength with the standing long jump test and flexibility with the sit-and-reach test. General intelligence was measured by both the D48 and the Raven tests. School grades were used to determine academic achievement. Linear regression analyses showed that cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with intelligence in both the D48 (all β ≥ 0.184, p ≤ 0.016) and the Raven tests (all β ≥ 0.183, p ≤ 0.024). Muscular strength, flexibility and overall fitness were not associated with intelligence (all β ≤ 0.122, p ≥ 0.139). Cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and flexibility were positively associated with academic achievement (all β ≥ 0.089, p ≤ 0.038), except muscular strength, which was not significantly associated with Spanish language or mathematics, (all β ≤ 0.050, p ≥ 0.200). Overall, cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with intelligence and academic achievement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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Open AccessArticle
Association between Health-Related Physical Fitness and Self-Rated Risk of Depression in Adolescents: Dados Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4316; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124316 - 17 Jun 2020
Abstract
Depression is the most common mental disorder, affecting around 5% of adolescents. Physical fitness is considered a powerful marker of physical and mental health. The scientific results on the relationship between physical fitness and depression in the adolescent population are mixed. Therefore, the [...] Read more.
Depression is the most common mental disorder, affecting around 5% of adolescents. Physical fitness is considered a powerful marker of physical and mental health. The scientific results on the relationship between physical fitness and depression in the adolescent population are mixed. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to analyse the association between objectively assessed physical fitness and self-rated risk of depression in a group of adolescents. A total of 225 participants (44% girls), aged 13.9 ± 0.3 years, from the Deporte, ADOlescencia y Salud (DADOS) study were included in the analyses. Field-based Assessing Levels of Physical fitness and Health in Adolescents (ALPHA) health-related fitness test battery was used to objectively assess physical fitness components. The Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) level 3 was used to evaluate self-rated risk of depression. Our results showed that self-rated risk of depression was inversely associated with cardiorespiratory fitness (β = −0.172), as well as positively associated with body mass index (β = 0.146) and waist circumference (β = 0.137) (all p < 0.05). Adolescents with low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had significantly higher odds of self-rated risk of depression (OR = 7.17; 95% CI, 1.51–33.95). These findings suggest that health-related physical fitness, particularly cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition, is associated with depression in adolescents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
Open AccessArticle
Association between Weight Status and Physical Fitness in Chinese Mainland Children and Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2468; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072468 - 04 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Background: The increasing prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents is a major public health challenge worldwide. This study examined the relationship between physical fitness and BMI spanning the range from underweight to obese among Chinese mainland children and adolescents. Methods: [...] Read more.
Background: The increasing prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents is a major public health challenge worldwide. This study examined the relationship between physical fitness and BMI spanning the range from underweight to obese among Chinese mainland children and adolescents. Methods: Participants were 22,681 children and adolescents (11,300 boys and 11,381 girls) aged 10–18 years from the Chinese mainland. Weight status was classified as underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese using WHO 2007 standards. Physical fitness parameters such as cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max), lower body explosive strength (standing broad jump), upper body explosive strength (handgrip strength), abdominal muscular endurance (sit-ups in 30 s), flexibility (sit-and-reach), and agility (repeat bestride (20 s)) were assessed. Results: There was a significant association between weight status categories and physical fitness in all age groups and sex (plinear < 0.001, pquadratic < 0.001). Underweight adolescents performed better in lower limb strength, flexibility, agility, and cardiorespiratory fitness than their obese peers, but worse in upper limb strength. Underweight boys aged 10–11 and 12–13 years and girls aged 10–11 years showed significantly (p < 0.05) high odds of meeting a low physical fitness index. Obese adolescents have high odds of meeting a low physical fitness index with age. Conclusion: The present study showed a nonlinear relationship between weight status and physical fitness. Children and adolescents who were classified as underweight or obese had poorer physical fitness than their normal-weight peers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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Open AccessArticle
Physical Fitness and Peer Relationships in Spanish Preadolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1890; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061890 - 14 Mar 2020
Abstract
Several studies have linked physical fitness (PF) with improvements in health, at a physiological and psychological level; however, there is little evidence of its relationship with health in the social field. Hence, the main aim of this study was to determine the existing [...] Read more.
Several studies have linked physical fitness (PF) with improvements in health, at a physiological and psychological level; however, there is little evidence of its relationship with health in the social field. Hence, the main aim of this study was to determine the existing relationship between PF and peer relations, as an indicator of social health in Spanish pre-teens. For that purpose, 642 participants aged 9 to 12 were chosen and given the high-priority Alpha Fitness battery in order to assess the PF, as well as the Classroom Social Experiences Query (CESC) to assess their social status. The results showed that those students with a better cardio-respiratory fitness obtained more nominations from their classmates in pro-sociality and positive status, and fewer in victimisation and negative status. Additionally, although to a lesser extent, muscular fitness was also related to a higher positive status and lower victimisation. The weight condition was also related to social behaviours, although the resulting data were differentiated by sex. While females with a standard weight stood out for their positive status, underweight males obtained worse results in positive status and fewer in negative status. These results all correspond with the aesthetic models imposed by society for females and males, respectively. These results show that PF is related to social health, which makes necessary the promotion of physical activity and the development of PF within the school environment, with attention to its relationship with the social health of the students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
Open AccessArticle
School-Based Sedentary Behavior, Physical Activity, and Health-Related Outcomes among Hispanic Children in the United States: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1197; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041197 - 13 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
The main purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between school-based sedentary behavior, physical activity, and health-related outcomes, including cardiorespiratory fitness, weight status, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among Hispanic children. The participants were 374 children (192 boys, 182 girls; [...] Read more.
The main purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between school-based sedentary behavior, physical activity, and health-related outcomes, including cardiorespiratory fitness, weight status, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among Hispanic children. The participants were 374 children (192 boys, 182 girls; Mage = 9.64) recruited from four elementary schools from 3rd grade through to 5th grade. Sedentary behavior and physical activity behaviors (light physical activity [LPA] and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA)) during school were measured by accelerometers. Cardiorespiratory fitness and weight status were measured using the FITNESSGRAM®, while HRQOL was measured using the PedsQL 4.0TM Spanish version, a validated questionnaire. Sedentary behavior was negatively correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness and HRQOL but positively associated with weight status. MVPA was positively correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness and HRQOL, but negatively associated with weight status and sedentary behavior. Multiple regressions demonstrated that sedentary behavior significantly predicted cardiorespiratory fitness and weight status, whereas MVPA significantly predicted HRQOL. With the current public health priority aiming to reduce health disparities in minority populations, the findings of this study provide important insights. Educators, health care providers, or other professionals working with Hispanic children are encouraged to focus on reducing sedentary behavior and promoting physical activity to improve their health-related outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
Open AccessArticle
Perfectly Active Teenagers. When Does Physical Exercise Help Psychological Well-Being in Adolescents?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4525; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224525 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the context of physical activity and sport, perfectionism and the regular practice of physical activity are related to psychological well-being and the regulation of psychological resources necessary for adaptation to effort and satisfaction. At the same time, the most active students are [...] Read more.
In the context of physical activity and sport, perfectionism and the regular practice of physical activity are related to psychological well-being and the regulation of psychological resources necessary for adaptation to effort and satisfaction. At the same time, the most active students are also those who show greater appetites for physical education classes. The goal of this work was to identify the influence of perfectionist beliefs and the regularity of the practice of physical exercise on psychological well-being. The participants were adolescents (n = 436) aged between 14 and 19 years (M = 16.80, SD = .77). They were administered the Multidimensional Perfection Scale, the Psychological Wellbeing Scale, the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQv2), and a sociodemographic questionnaire. The results showed, under a non-random and transversal design, that the participants gave important value to physical exercise because they feel both active and vigorous. Regarding perfectionism, the functional aspects of perfectionism (expectations of achievement and organization) correlated positively, while the dysfunctional aspects (fear of committing errors and external expectations) did so negatively with the importance given to physical exercise performed by adolescents; this in turn positively predicted psychological well-being. In this way, the hypothesized model contemplated the relevance of the included variables and reflected the mediation of the degree of importance given to the practice of physical exercise on perfectionist beliefs and psychological well-being. Currently, most physical activity practice proposals for adolescents focus on federated and structured environments for competition, and those that deal with recreational and health-oriented sports are far less common. Hence, "the perfect way of doing sports" for a teenager should be accompanied by cognitive schemes aimed at strengthening psychological resources that allow the regulation of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Physical Fitness, Body Composition, and Adherence to Mediterranean Diet in Adolescents from Estonia: The AdolesHealth Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4479; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224479 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Unhealthy lifestyles, low levels of physical fitness, and adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MD) are associated with bad quality of life and the development of a wide range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The current study aimed to evaluate the level of adherence to [...] Read more.
Unhealthy lifestyles, low levels of physical fitness, and adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MD) are associated with bad quality of life and the development of a wide range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The current study aimed to evaluate the level of adherence to the MD in physical fitness performance and body composition parameters in children and adolescents of Estonia. Therefore, 413 adolescents (56% boys) from the city of Tartu completed the Mediterranean Diet Questionnaire (KIDMED) for analyzing the adherence to MD and performed the Alpha Fitness Test for measuring physical fitness and body composition. A 41.67% of low, 44.05% of average, and 14.28% of high adherence to MD was detected, without difference between genders (p = 0.747). In the Alpha Fitness battery, a higher performance was observed in all tests for boys vs. girls (p < 0.05). In relation to body composition, higher height, weight, and waist values were observed in boys (p < 0.05) and a lower body fat percentage (p < 0.01) without differences in body mass index (BMI; p = 0.906). The adherence to the MD is classified as average/low. Gender significantly influences all variables of the Alpha Fitness battery and anthropometrics measures excepting BMI. According the levels of adherence to the MD, no statistically different prevalence was observed for Non-Overweight (N-Oweight), Non-Overfat (N-Ofat), or Non-Overwaist (N-Owaist). Still, a risk factor for Overweight (Oweight) in boys with low adherence was observed in comparison to those with a mid-level of adherence to the MD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
Open AccessArticle
Cardiorespiratory Fitness Normative Values in Latin-American Adolescents: Role of Fatness Parameters
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 3889; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16203889 - 14 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The aim of this study was to provide percentile values for a cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) field test for Latin-American adolescents (34,461 girls and 38,044 boys) aged 13 to 15 years. The role of fatness parameters on the CRF level across age groups was [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to provide percentile values for a cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) field test for Latin-American adolescents (34,461 girls and 38,044 boys) aged 13 to 15 years. The role of fatness parameters on the CRF level across age groups was also examined, with a focus on non-obese (healthy) and obese groups. CRF was assessed using the 20-meter shuttle run test protocol. Anthropometric parameters were measured using body mass index z-score (body mass index (BMI) z-score), BMI, waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR). Participants were categorized according to the BMI z-score, WC, and WHtR international cut-off points as healthy and obese. Age- and sex-specific reference tables for the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th, and 97th centile scores were calculated using Cole’s lambda, mu, and sigma method. The prevalence of obesity according to the BMI z-score, WC, and WHtR was 9.6%, 11.2%, and 15.0%, respectively. Across all age and sex groups, a negative association was found between relative peak oxygen uptake ( V ˙ O2peak) and BMI, WC, and WHtR. In boys and girls there were higher levels of performance across all age groups, with most apparent gains between the ages of 13 and 14 years old. Overall, participants categorized in the healthy group had shown to have significantly higher V ˙ O2peak than their obese counterparts (p < 0.001; Cohen’s d > 1.0). In conclusion, our study provides age- and sex-specific reference values for CRF ( V ˙ O2peak, mL·kg−1·min−1). The anthropometric parameters were inversely associated with CRF in all ages in both sexes. The obese group had worse CRF than their healthy counterparts independent of anthropometric parameters used to determine obesity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
School-Based Intervention Programs for Preventing Obesity and Promoting Physical Activity and Fitness: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 347; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010347 - 03 Jan 2020
Cited by 7
Abstract
With the significant decrease in physical activity rates, the importance of intervention programs in the schools, where children spend a significant part of the day, has become indisputable. The purpose of this review is to systematically examine the possibility of school-based interventions on [...] Read more.
With the significant decrease in physical activity rates, the importance of intervention programs in the schools, where children spend a significant part of the day, has become indisputable. The purpose of this review is to systematically examine the possibility of school-based interventions on promoting physical activity and physical fitness as well as preventing obesity. A systematic approach adopting PRISMA statement was implemented in this study. Three different databases (2010–2019) were screened and primary and secondary school-based intervention programs measuring at least one variable of obesity, physical activity, or physical fitness were included. The risk of bias was assessed using the validated quality assessment tool for quantitative studies. Among 395 potentially related studies, 19 studies were found to meet the eligibility criteria. A general look at the studies examined reveals that among the outcomes, of which most (18/19) were examined, a significant improvement was provided in at least one of them. When the program details are examined, it can be said that the success rate of the physical activity-oriented programs is higher in all variables. School-based interventions can have important potential for obesity prevention and promotion of physical activity and fitness if they focus more on the content, quality, duration and priority of the physical activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fitness, Physical Activity, and Health in Youth)
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