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University School of Physical Education in Wrocław

University School of Physical Education in Kraków


University School of Physical Education in Kraków (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego im. Bronisława Czecha w Krakowie)

Human movement quarterly

vol. 14, number 4 (December), 2013, pp. 281 – 377

editor-in-Chief alicja Rutkowska-Kucharska

University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland associate editor edward mleczko

University School of Physical Education, Kraków, Poland editorial Board

Physical activity, fitness and health

Wiesław Osiński University School of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland Applied sport sciences

Zbigniew Trzaskoma Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education, Warszawa, Poland Biomechanics and motor control

Tadeusz Bober University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Kornelia Kulig University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA Physiological aspects of sports

Andrzej Suchanowski Jozef Rusiecki Olsztyn University College, Olsztyn, Poland Psychological diagnostics of sport and exercise

Andrzej Szmajke Opole University, Opole, Poland advisory Board

Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA Gudrun Doll-Tepper Free University, Berlin, Germany

Józef Drabik University School of Physical Education and Sport, Gdańsk, Poland Kenneth Hardman University of Worcester, Worcester, United Kingdom

Andrew Hills Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia Zofia Ignasiak University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Slobodan Jaric University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA

Toivo Jurimae University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Han C.G. Kemper Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Wojciech Lipoński University School of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland Gabriel Łasiński University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Robert M. Malina University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA

Melinda M. Manore Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA Philip E. Martin Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA Joachim Mester German Sport University, Cologne, Germany Toshio Moritani Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Andrzej Pawłucki University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland John S. Raglin Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Roland Renson Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium

Tadeusz Rychlewski University School of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland James F. Sallis San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA James S. Skinner Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA Jerry R. Thomas University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA Karl Weber German Sport University, Cologne, Germany Peter Weinberg Hamburg, Germany

Marek Woźniewski University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Guang Yue Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Wladimir M. Zatsiorsky Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA Jerzy Żołądź University School of Physical Education, Kraków, Poland

Translation: Michael Antkowiak, Tomasz Skirecki Design: Agnieszka Nyklasz

Copy editor: Beata Irzykowska Statistical editor: Małgorzata Kołodziej

Proofreading: Beata Kanak

Indexed in: SPORTDiscus, Index Copernicus, Altis, Sponet, Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Global Health 7 pkt wg rankingu Ministerstwa Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego

© Copyright 2013 by Wydawnictwo AWF we Wrocławiu ISSN 1732-3991 Editorial Office Dominika Niedźwiedź

51-612 Wrocław, al. Ignacego Jana Paderewskiego 35, Poland, tel. 48 71 347 30 51, hum_mov@awf.wroc.pl This is to certify the conformity with PN-EN-ISO 9001:2009



p h y s i c a l a c t i v i t y , f i t n e s s a n d h e a l t h Agnieszka Olchowska-Kotala, Krystyna chromik

Body satisfaction and time spent on physical activity in Polish students ... 285 Tomasz Boraczyński, Michał Boraczyński, sandra Boraczyńska, Anna Michels

Changes in body composition and physical fitness of 7-year-old girls after completing

a 12-month artistic gymnastics training program ...291 Agnieszka Dębiec-Bąk, Katarzyna Gruszka, Krzysztof A. sobiech, Anna skrzek

Age dependence of thermal imaging analysis of body surface temperature

in women after cryostimulation ... 299 Jennifer Harmon, Timothy A. Brusseau, Douglas collier, Elizabeth Lenz

Habitual physical activity patterns of inner-city children ... 305 Magdalena Rokicka-Hebel

Preschool attendance as a factor in the motor skill development of children ...310 b i o m e c h a n i c s a n d m o t o r c o n t r o l

Michael G. Robinson, Laurence E. Holt, Thomas W. Pelham

An assessment of hydrodynamic and simulated race performance features of three C-1 hull designs ...322 Erika Zemková, Michal Jeleň, Gábor Ollé, Tomáš Vilman, Dušan Hamar

Power production during bench press with different ranges of motion

on stable and unstable surfaces ...328 Jonathan sinclair, Jack Hebron, Howard Hurst, Paul Taylor

The influence of different Cardan sequences on three-dimensional cycling kinematics ...334 Daniel das Virgens chagas, Gustavo Leporace, Jomilto Praxedes, Igor carvalho,

sérgio Pinto, Luiz Alberto Batista

Analysis of kinematic parameters of gait in Brazilian children using a low-cost procedure ... 340 Rafael Pereira, Max Miller Alves Mendel, Ludmila schettino, Marco Machado, Pierre Augusto-silva

Acute neuromuscular responses to a resistance exercise session performed using the DeLorme

and Oxford techniques ...347 p h y s i o l o g i c a l a s p e c t s o f s p o r t s

Agron M. Rexhepi, Behlul Brestovci

The functional efficiency of mouthguards in martial sports ...353 Piotr Makar, Grzegorz Bielec

Lactate and glucose concentrations in assessing anaerobic capacity in an elite junior swimmer –

a case study ... 360 Bartosz Molik, James J. Laskin, Andrzej Kosmol, Jolanta Marszałek,

Natalia Morgulec-Adamowicz, Tim Frick

Relationships between anaerobic performance, field tests, and functional level of elite female

wheelchair basketball athletes ... 366 Publishing guidelines – Regulamin publikowania prac ... 372



We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all Reviwers for their most effective contribution to the improvement of quality of Human Movement in 2013:

2013, vol. 14 (4)

William M. Bertucci, Reims (France) Rodrigo Rico Bini, Porto Alegre (Brazil) Jan Blecharz, Kraków (Poland)

Tadeusz Bober, Wrocław (Poland) Eugeniusz Bolach, Wrocław (Poland) Zbigniew Borysiuk, Opole (Poland) Janusz Brudecki, Kraków (Poland) Piotr Brzozowski, Lublin (Poland) Jadwiga charzewska, Warszawa (Poland) Loren Z.F. chiu, Edmonton (canada) Krystyna cieślik, Poznań (Poland) stanisław czyż, Wrocław (Poland) Jacek Dembiński, Wrocław (Poland) Henryk Duda, Kraków (Poland)

Włodzimierz s. Erdmann, Gdańsk (Poland) sean Flanagan, Los Angeles (UsA)

Jan Gajewski, Warszawa (Poland)

Krystyna Górna-Łukasik, Katowice (Poland) Jan Górski, Białystok (Poland)

Halina Guła-Kubiszewska, Wrocław (Poland) Rami Hashish, Los Angeles (UsA)

Zofia Ignasiak, Wrocław (Poland) Janusz Iskra, Katowice (Poland) Grzegorz Juras, Katowice (Poland)

Katarzyna Kisiel-sajewicz, Wrocław (Poland) Krzysztof Klukowski, Warszawa (Poland) Leszek Korzewa, Wrocław (Poland) stanisław Kowalik, Poznań (Poland) Marcin Krawczyński, Gdańsk (Poland) Michał Kuczyński, Wrocław (Poland) Kornelia Kulig, Los Angeles (UsA) Lesław Kulmatycki, Wrocław (Poland) Krzysztof Kusy, Poznań (Poland) Radosław Laskowski, Gdańsk (Poland)

Maria Laurentowska, Poznań (Poland) Janusz Maciaszek, Poznań (Poland) Robert M. Malina, Texas (UsA) Philip E. Martin, Ames (UsA) Małgorzata Mraz, Wrocław (Poland) Wiesław Osiński, Poznań (Poland) Jadwiga Pietraszewska, Wrocław (Poland) John M. Popovich, East Lansing (UsA) Marek Rejman, Wrocław (Poland) Andrzej Rokita, Wrocław (Poland) Jerzy sadowski, Biała Podlaska (Poland) sachithra samarawickrame, Los Angeles (UsA) Krzysztof sas-Nowosielski, Katowice (Poland) Małgorzata sekułowicz, Wrocław (Poland) Adam siemieński, Wrocław (Poland) Teresa sławińska-Ochla, Wrocław (Poland)

Małgorzata słowińska-Lisowska, Wrocław (Poland) stanisław solnik, Wrocław (Poland)

Rafał stemplewski, Wrocław (Poland) Andrzej suchanowski, Olsztyn (Poland) Robert szeklicki, Poznań (Poland) Andrzej szmajke, Opole (Ponad) Rajmund Tomik, Katowice (Poland) czesław Urbanik, Warszawa (Poland) Dariusz Wieliński, Poznań (Poland) sławomir Winiarski, Wrocław (Poland) Andrzej Wit, Warszawa (Poland)

Michał Wychowański, Warszawa (Poland) Marek Zatoń, Wrocław (Poland)

Halina Zdebska, Kraków (Poland) Jacek Zieliński, Poznań (Poland) stanisław Żak, Kraków (Poland) Ryszard Żarów, Kraków (Poland)


BODy sATisfACTiOn AnD Time sPenT On PHysiCAL ACTiviTy

in POLisH sTuDenTs

AgnieszkA OLCHOwskA-kOTALA 1 *, kRysTynA CHROmik2

1 Wrocław Medical University, Wroclaw, Poland

2 University school of Physical Education, Wroclaw, Poland ABsTRAcT

Purpose. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between body satisfaction, the amount of time spent on physical

activity (PA), and body mass index (BMI) in a group of young adults. Methods. A sample of 527 students (351 females and 176 males) aged 19–24 years were recruited for analysis. Measures of height and weight were collected. Participants completed a ques-tionnaire about PA performed during the previous seven days, intention of increasing PA levels, overall body satisfaction, their ideal BMI, and what parts of their bodies they were most dissatisfied with. Results. Body satisfaction was associated with the amount of time spent on PA in both women and men. No relationship between time spent on PA and BMI was found. In women, lower levels of PA, lower body satisfaction, and a larger discrepancy between actual BMI and ideal BMI was observed when compared with men. The majority of women (85.7%) as well as men (78.4%) intended to increase their PA in the near future.

Conclusions. Body satisfaction grows together with increasing the amount of time spent on PA. Young adults are aware of the

benefits of PA, but there is a gap between knowledge and practice, highlighting the need for programs that can motivate and educate on how to turn intentions into action. Along with promoting PA, focus on body satisfaction especially among women is also recommended.

Key words: physical activity, body satisfaction, BMI, young adults

doi: 10.2478/humo-2013-0033

2013, vol. 14 (4), 285– 290


Physical inactivity has been increasingly recognized as a significant risk factor associated with mortality in adults [1]. Regular and moderate physical activity (PA) has many health benefits and is protective against obesity and other health risks [2]. The literature includes well-documented links between moderate physical ac-tivity and mental benefits. As an example, we can men-tion research conducted on 12,028 randomly selected men and women aged 20–79 years from Denmark, which showed a decrease in high stress levels with in-creasing PA [3]. In addition, increased PA was associ-ated with increases in life satisfaction [3–5], happiness [4], and self-esteem [6].

changes in the social environment have been cited as explanatory factors for decreased PA among young individuals [7]. Young adults in particular, due to the period of transition they experience at this age, often experience numerous lifestyle changes. Yet, it is during this period that young adults develop the PA habits that are maintained in later life. One aspect of interest is how concern about physical appearance can motivate young individuals to engage in PA, since early adult-hood is a key risk time for body image problems [8]. It is becoming apparent that many individuals who are even not overweight or obese have some level of body dissatisfaction [9]. Body satisfaction is a multifaceted,

structural concept that is dependent upon numerous inner biological and psychological components and ap-pears to be a specific domain of global self-esteem [10]. subjects who reported feeling less attractive and more dissatisfied with their bodies or body weight were found to feature a higher level of psychological problems [11]. Body satisfaction in particular is an important element of self-esteem building for young adults as many are still searching for their life partners and also entering the job market at this stage in life. This population segment is under considerable social and peer pressure to conform to the societal picture of attractiveness and the cul-tural ideal.

One of the factors associated with body satisfaction is the currently adopted concept of body mass index (BMI) [10]. Although obesity is still comparatively un-common in early adulthood, mean BMI levels in indus-trialized countries have steadily risen for this popula-tion [12]. Data collected from 18,512 university students from 22 countries showed lowest mean BMI among women in Korea (BMI = 19.3) and the highest in the UsA (BMI = 22.6). Polish women in this regard were ranked 8th

(BMI = 20.1). For men, lowest mean BMI was observed in Thailand (BMI = 20.5) and the highest in the UsA (BMI = 24.3), whereas Polish men were ranked 12th

(BMI = 22.8) [8]. Increased BMI levels were explained in part by the adoption of different lifestyles stemming from environmental changes. Many of the everyday activities of life in the modern world are significantly different from what our bodies have adapted to per-forming in the course of evolution. significant changes


A. Olchowska-Kotala, K. chromik, Body satisfaction in Polish students

in life circumstances, especially those prevalent in ur-banized societies, may affect physical activity patterns. Many current occupational requirements in urbanized societies no longer require high physical demands [13], and individuals who become less active negatively impact the functioning of their bodies. Hence, current research should seek to identify new ways of promoting PA.

The aim of the study was to assess the relationship between body satisfaction, BMI, and the amount of time spent on PA in a group of students by asking the following research questions:

(1) How much time per week do students spend ex-ercising and being physically active, and are they likely to increase PA levels?

(2) What parts of body are students least satisfied with?

(3) Which of the examined factors (BMI and the amount of time spent on PA) is most closely as-sociated with body satisfaction?

Both men and women were included in this study to determine if gender differences exist in body satis-faction and physical activity levels as an attempt to fa-cilitate the creation of gender appropriate prevention strategies and interventions.

Material and methods

The sample population consisted of 527 randomly-selected students (351 females and 176 males) aged between 19–24 years attending the University of En-vironmental and Life sciences in Wrocław, Poland. The inclusion criterion was for the participant to be a large-city resident for a period of at least one year. The study was conducted in May 2011 during students’ phys-ical education classes. It began by the participants com-pleting a questionnaire on time spent on physical ac-tivity and an assessment of body image and then had their body height and mass measured. Prior to com-mencement, the study was approved by the local ethics committee and the study procedure was performed in accordance with Declaration of Helsinki. Participation in the study was anonymous and voluntary.

Body mass was measured to the nearest 0.1 kg using a model No. 761 medical scale (seca, UsA). standing height was measured to the nearest 10 mm with a model Posturometer s measuring device (Posmed, Poland), where the subject stood upright in a natural posture with the head in Frankfurt plane. Participants were measured dressed in gym clothes without footwear.

BMI was calculated by dividing body mass (kg) by height squared (m2) and grouped into one of four weight

categories: underweight (< 18.5 BMI), normal weight (18.5–24.9 BMI), overweight (25–29.9 BMI), and obese (> 30 BMI).

On the survey, the amount of time spent on PA was measured by a question asking about the number of hours spent during the past seven days engaged in physical

activity (walking, jogging, roller-skating, dancing, team sports, garden work, etc.). Additionally, participants were asked if they were going to increase their PA in the near future. Body satisfaction was measured by three items using a 7-point scale, where participants were asked to rate:

(1) how happy they are with their body (from 1 – ex-tremely dissatisfied to 7 – exex-tremely satisfied); (2) how fit they believe they are (from 1 – not at all

to 7 – extremely fit);

(3) how attractive they feel they are to the opposite sex (from 1 – not at all to 7 – very attractive). Responses to the three items were tallied to create a total body satisfaction indicator. cronbach’s alpha was used as a coefficient of reliability, finding the ques-tions on body satisfaction to be = 0.79. Furthermore, the respondents were asked to select which part of the body they were most dissatisfied with: legs, stomach, chest, or face. The respondents were also asked to note what body mass and height they would like to have, with these values used to calculate their Ideal BMI. The differ-ence between present mass and ideal mass was calcu-lated by subtracting ideal mass from present mass.

statistical analyses were conducted using sPss ver. 18 statistical software (IBM, UsA). The levels of signifi-cance of the differences between the women and men were assessed with student’s t test. Pearson’s product-moment correlation was used to examine the associa-tions among study variables by sex. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to examine if there were any differences in PA depending on BMI category (underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese). statis-tical significance was set at the p < 0.05 probability level.


Table 1 provides minimum, maximum, means, and standard deviations for age, mass, height, BMI, and Ide-al BMI separately for the mIde-ale and femIde-ale student par-ticipants. Female respondents (n = 351) had mean BMI of 21.7, with minimum-maximum values ranging from 16.30 to 41.30, whereas the males respondents (n = 176) had mean BMI of 24.57, ranging from 18.40 to 35.90. As shown in Table 1, the tendency to be overweight and obese was larger in men (total 40.9%) compared with women (total overweight and obese women – 11.3%). More underweight individuals were observed in women than in men.

In women, significantly lower levels of body satis-faction as well as physical activity were observed than in the group of men (Tab. 2). Differences between present BMI and Ideal BMI were compared, finding a higher discrepancy between these two values in women.

The majority of women (85.7%) and men (78.4%) confirmed their intention to increase their PA in the near future. Table 3 shows Person’s correlation coefficients calculated for sex. No correlation in either women or


A. Olchowska-Kotala, K. chromik, Body satisfaction in Polish students

Table 1. characteristics of the participants

Min Max SD Women n = 351 Age 19 23 20.24 0.57 Mass 40 125 58.84 10.41 Height 147 186 164.50 6.53 BMI 16.30 41.30 21.70 3.22 Ideal BMI 14.69 29.30 19.18 1.77 BMI (%) underweight 12% normal weight 76.7% overweight 8.5% obesity 2.8% Men n = 176 Age 19 24 20.62 0.87 Mass 53 113 76.40 11.19 Height 161 195 176.45 6.73 BMI 18.40 35.90 24.57 3.19 Ideal BMI 16.44 29.71 23.29 2.14 BMI (%) underweight 0.6% normal weight 58.5% overweight 34.6% obesity 6.3%

Table 2. Differences between the women and men in body satisfaction, the amount of time spent on PA, and the discrepancy between BMI and Ideal BMI

Women (n = 351)

± SD Men ( ± n = 176)SD t p

Time spent on PA (previous seven days) 9.83 ± 8.66 13.81 ± 11.05 –4.17 0.001 Body satisfaction 13.09 ± 3.25 15.34 ± 3.18 –7.58 0.001 Discrepancy between BMI and Ideal BMI 2.51 ± 2.88 1.28 ± 3.48 4.08 0.001 Table 3. correlations between time spent on physical activity, BMI, body satisfaction, discrepancy between BMI

and ideal BMI

Time spent on PA BMI Body satisfaction Women

Time spent on PA –

BMI –0.03 –

Body satisfaction 0.19** –0.33** – Discrepancy between BMI and Ideal BMI 0.01 0.84** –0.32** Men

Time spent on PA –

BMI –0.02 –

Body satisfaction 0.25** –0.12 –

Discrepancy between BMI and Ideal BMI –0.06 0.80** –0.22* ** p < 0.001; * p < 0.05

men was observed between the amount of PA performed in the preceding week and BMI. However, in both groups a positive correlation between PA and body satisfaction was found.

ANOVA on the differences in PA among the BMI cate-gories (underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese) showed a lack of statistically significant differences in

women F (3, 346) = 0.147, p = 0.932 and in men F (3, 172) = 0.010, p = 0.999

Analysis on what parts of the body the participants were most dissatisfied with found that most men were dissatisfied with their stomach (43.2%), their chest (26.1%), and then legs (18.2%). The most satisfactory part of their bodies was their face, with only 12.5% of


A. Olchowska-Kotala, K. chromik, Body satisfaction in Polish students

male respondents reporting dissatisfaction. similar to men, the women were mostly dissatisfied with their stomach (41.1%). The legs were ranked second (35.1%), then the chest (14.3%). The face, just like in men, was ranked last (9.4%).


The aim of this study was to determine if there was any association between body satisfaction and actual body mass and height and the amount of time spent on PA in young adults. In addition, we also examined which parts of the body this group is most dissatisfied with in order to determine on what a campaign aimed at promoting PA among young adults should focus.

The young adults in this study had, on average, nor-mal BMI and reported physical activity levels higher than recommended standards (30 min/d of PA on most days [14]). It presumed that the greater amount of time spent on PA by this group was a function of their age. Furthermore, the study was carried out in the spring, which may have influenced the amount of actively spent time.

In our study, we found a positive correlation be-tween body satisfaction and the amount of time spent on PA. This correlation was observed in both the fe-male and fe-male students. similar results were obtained in a study on American students [15]. Therefore, it ap-pears that an increase in the time spent on PA is associ-ated with an increase in the level of body satisfaction, with the opposite also being quite likely. However, causality cannot be assumed from the results as this study used a cross-sectional design. Therefore, body satisfaction may be both a cause and a consequence of PA. However, a systematic review of the correlations found in other longitudinal and experimental studies leads to the conclusion that regular PA results in an increased perceived positive changes in physical ap-pearance, fitness, body mass, and health [16]. Given the above considerations, on the basis of our research it can be assumed that body satisfaction can be proved by increased PA levels. This is particularly im-portant for young adults, who may benefit psychologi-cally from increased PA at this very critical stage in their lives.

Men showed higher body satisfaction (based on the three-item questionnaire and by the smaller discrepancy between Ideal BMI and actual BMI). This supports pre-vious findings on gender differences in body satisfaction, which stated that body dissatisfaction was more com-mon acom-mong women [17–19]. Women are considered to attach far more importance to their physical appearance, including body mass, than men. The desire to be small-er than one’s current size was also found to be more widespread in women than in men [20]. In Western society, thinness has become the idealized standard of feminine beauty. This standard has been personally

internalized by many women who feel their body size to be excessive and unacceptable [21].

Our study showed a relationship between body satis-faction and BMI in women but not in men. In previous studies, a similar difference in the relationship between body satisfaction and BMI in women and men was also found. Among female adolescents, a linear increase in poor body satisfaction with increasing BMI was observed by Austin [22]. Among boys, however, this author found a U-shaped association, where low BMI and those with high BMI reported higher levels of poor body satisfaction. In another study conducted on college students, only underweight (BMI < 20) women and men were similarly satisfied with their body mass and shape. With an in-crease of BMI, however, young women became dispro-portionately more dissatisfied, and both normal weight and overweight women expressed greater dissatisfaction than their male peers [23]. Our study confirmed that body satisfaction in women is associated with their ac-tual size. However, this study’s sample presented too few underweight and overweight individuals to more precisely define the shape of this relationship.

The part of body associated with the highest levels of dissatisfaction in women as well as in men was the stomach. This indicates the direction campaigns should take to improve PA levels in this population, providing emphasis on the positive influence of exercise on this part of body to encourage the participation in PA. These results are in fair agreement with previous studies, al-though they indicated that the chest muscles are the most important for men [24]. In our study, one in four male respondents were dissatisfied with his chest. At the same time, almost one in three women were dis-satisfied with her legs. Therefore, promotional slogans that also advertise the influence of PA on the growth of chest muscle tissue and the toning of leg muscle are suggested.

In the present study, no association between BMI and the amount of time spent on PA was found. The literature is inconsistent on the correlation between BMI and PA. Most data support the thesis that people with higher levels of PA usually have lower indexes of BMI [25]. However, not all studies found this relation-ship. In the research conducted by Dowda [26] on 4,152 young adults, BMI was negatively correlated with PA in women but not in men. Nonetheless, seo [27] exa-mined 4,685 college students finding BMI was not as-sociated with a lack of regular PA from all four of the analyzed countries (UsA, costa Rica, India, south Korea). However, the fact that no correlation between BMI and PA was found in our or in seo’s research might result from the specific character of the study population (students, few of whom are relatively overweight).

As was found by other researchers [7, 27, 28], men had higher rates of participation in PA than did women. It is worth considering that the vast majority of young women and men intended to increase the amount of


A. Olchowska-Kotala, K. chromik, Body satisfaction in Polish students

PA in the near future. However, it is very unlikely that all respondents who declared their intention of increasing PA will actually fulfill their promise. This finding shows that although young adults are aware of the benefits of PA, there is a gap between knowledge and practice. A lack of a strong correlation between intention and the motivation to fulfill their promise to engage in more PA was found in many studies and termed as the ‘intention-behavior gap’ by psychologists [29]. An implementation intentions intervention is felt to be one of the best ways to minimize this gap, where an individual prepares a schedule, including information about the time, place, and way they will perform an action. It was proven that interventions based on implementation intention might initiate regular PA and increase the probability that in-dividuals maintain the required activity level for a longer period of time [30]. conducting such interventions seems to be advisable considering our results showing the mu-tual intentions of increasing PA among both the male and female respondents.

The study has some limitations. Firstly, the sample consisted of few overweight individuals. This may be the result of this population having a relatively low obesity rate. Furthermore, our respondents were university stu-dents, where studies conducted in Poland [31] as well as in other countries [32] found an inverse relationship between educational level and BMI. Therefore, the spe-cific character of this population may be the cause for the relatively high recorded levels of PA, as both educa-tional level [26] and living in urban areas [33] are con-nected with active lifestyle. secondly, participation in physical activity was measured by only one self-reported question. On the basis of our tool, we were able to only establish the average time of various daily PA but not if it was of moderate-intensity or vigorous- intensity. Future research should incorporate more precise measures of PA or incorporate an objective measure of physical ac-tivity by using pedometers and accelero meters to fur-ther explore the relationship between physical activity, BMI, and body satisfaction. Finally, as the collected data was correlational in nature, it could not therefore ad-dress causality.


Despite its limitations, there are still a number of strengths of the study that should be taken into con-sideration. Firstly, this study showed a significant as-sociation between the amount of time spent actively and body satisfaction. Body satisfaction is one of the factors that form general well-being and participation in PA may be influential in improving mental well-being in young adults. Well-being should be a key argument in future campaigns for increasing PA. secondly, both young men and women were similarly dissatisfied with similar parts of their bodies. This can allow PA pro-motional campaigns to better target their audience by

knowing what physical aspects they can focus on. Thirdly, our findings showed that the majority of the sample intended to increase the amount of physical activity they perform. We suggest using implementation intentions programs (such as being conducted during PE classes) designed to further motivate this population segment by turning intentions into action. Although our study was aimed primarily at finding arguments for the pro-motion of increased PA among young adults, the findings also suggest that additional promotional campaigns on increasing body satisfaction, especially among women, would also be recommended.


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Paper received by the Editors: september 20, 2013 Paper accepted for publication: November 12, 2013

Correspondence address Agnieszka Olchowska-Kotala

Zakład Humanistycznych Nauk Lekarskich Uniwersytet Medyczny we Wrocławiu ul. Mikulicza-Radeckiego 7

50-367 Wrocław, Poland


CHAnges in BODy COmPOsiTiOn AnD PHysiCAL fiTness

Of 7-yeAR-OLD giRLs AfTeR COmPLeTing A 12-mOnTH

ARTisTiC gymnAsTiCs TRAining PROgRAm

TOmAsz BORACzyński 1 *, miCHAł BORACzyński1,

sAnDRA BORACzyńskA1, AnnA miCHeLs2

1 Józef Rusiecki University, Olsztyn, Poland

2 M.G. Bublewicz No. 5 sports champion school, Olsztyn, Poland ABsTRAcT

Purpose. The aim of the study was to evaluate changes in body composition and physical fitness in girls aged 7 years before

and after a 12-month macrocycle artistic gymnastics training program. Methods. The study involved 32 girls attending the first grade at a sports-focused primary school with a specialization in artistic gymnastics. The study was conducted at the beginning and after an annual training cycle. Measures of body height, body mass, and body composition were performed. Physical fitness was assessed using the Eurofit physical fitness test battery. Results. The results showed average body composition and a high initial level and later dynamic increase in the physical fitness of the participants. Conclusions. The dynamic increase in the results of six Eurofit tests and the overall high level of results in seven of the tests after completing the annual training cycle is evidence of the high effectiveness of the applied training program in improving the physical fitness of the tested girls. The reasons for the lack of significant progress in one of the tests measuring agility (10 × 5 m shuttle run) are unclear, requiring more in-depth analysis of the training process used by trainers with focus on the applied methods, means, and training load volumes. The Eurofit test battery proved to be a precise tool to assess changes in the physical fitness of the tested girls after completing the annual training cycle and is therefore worth recommending at early training stage in gymnastics. The results provide useful information in optimizing the training loads of artistic gymnasts at the initial training stage.

Key words: girls aged 7–8 years, artistic gymnastics, body composition, physical fitness, Eurofit

doi: 10.2478/humo-2013-0034

2013, vol. 14 (4), 291 – 298

* corresponding author.


contemporarily, it is believed that in order to achieve a high degree of complex motor performance in many sports disciplines training needs to begin in early child-hood. This is in part the result of modern competitive sport being characterized by an ever-continuing increase in performance levels [1, 2]. This development is the result of growing knowledge on the human body’s ad-aptation to exercise, improved athlete recruitment and selection methods, and more efficient training exer-cises and programs [2–4].

The particular importance of the training process at its initial stage is due to the role it plays in the develop-ment of athletic motor skills. Nonetheless, a high level of wide-ranging physical fitness provides a foundation on which specific motor abilities and skills can later be developed.

The basis for assessing the training process in sports involves a systematic examination of training effects. such an evaluation requires the use of objective, quan-titative, and qualitative criteria for assessing motor skill level, the body’s response to training loads, the characteristics of pertinent mental processes, and the level of athletic technical and tactical preparation. All of these factors are then interpreted so as to optimize

the training process. However, this optimization pro-cess requires coaches and educators to continually mon-itor the training effects for each athlete to allow for the individualization of training loads [1–8].

The above-mentioned factors combine to form an ‘optimal fitness structure’, which is particularly impor-tant in sports such as artistic gymnastics where a great deal of significance is attributed to motor abilities and particularly coordination [1, 5]. Artistic gymnastics, due to its physical structure, athletic demands, and physio-logical profile, belongs to a group of coordinative dif-ficult aesthetic and technical disciplines whose energy demands are met mainly by the anaerobic glycolytic system. Potop et al. [10] highlighted the importance of using specific training loads to elicit peak improve-ments in women’s artistic gymnastics by highlighting the importance of an optimum relationship between workload and technical-physical training level. Increased performance requires the combination of an athlete’s individual fitness levels and coordination skills to be in mutual harmony with suitable training techniques and workouts at different difficulties [11, 12]. It needs to be stressed that the effectiveness of the training pro-cess in gymnastics depends on the individual abilities of athletes and what useful indicators on performance can be gained across training stages. This also relates to the importance that is attributed to the recruitment/ selection stage, as it aims to identify talented individuals and determine their developmental potential [1, 4].


T. Boraczyński, M. Boraczyński, s. Boraczyńska, A. Michels, Training effects in young female gymnasts

Many experts have emphasized the crucial impor-tance of possessing a broad level of physical fitness in the athletic development of artistic gymnastics [1, 5, 8, 11–16]. For these reasons, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the anthropometric characteristics, body composition, and selected components of physical fit-ness of 7 year-old girls beginning an introductory level of gymnastics and after the completion of a full (12-month) training macrocycle.

Material and methods

A quasi-experimental, longitudinal (pre- and post-test) design was adopted to examine the effects of gym-nastics training on the individual components of body composition and physical fitness in 32 pre-pubertal girls (mean chronological age 7.72 ± 0.30 years) attend-ing the first grade at the No. 23 Primary school of sports championship in Olsztyn, Poland. The girls were attend-ing the school with a specialization in artistic gymnastics and were admitted based on a set of performance tests.

The subjects participated in one daily training unit (4 h) six days every week in a specialized gym. Each train-ing unit contained two traintrain-ing phases: routine develop-ment (RD) and strength-technical conditioning (sTc). Each of phases lasted 2 h. The RD phase started with a 30-min warm-up which included 8 to 10 min of slow running and a 20-min set of athletic exercises (skipping, hand walking, etc.). One and a half hours was devoted to choreographic-ballet elements and active stretching of the upper and lower limb muscle groups. The sTc phase consisted of general and technical-strength de-velopment performed on gymnastic apparatuses such as the high bar, parallel bars, etc. Training impact (loads) were primarily administered on four gymnastics ap-paratuses (30 min on each): (1) gymnastics table – vaulting; (2) parallel bars – standing, turnovers, turnstiles, drop jumps; (3) balance beam – choreographic elements, ballet jumps; and (4) free exercises – acrobatics, handsprings on one and two lower limbs, forward and backward somer-saults, etc. Examples of the duration of specific exercises per standard training unit were, for example, an average of 18–20 min of static support loading on the hands/ wrists or an average of 3.5 min swinging on the bars. Heart rate was monitored during chosen training units. It was estimated that about 63% of total training time was devoted to rest or recovery. Mean heart rate was 139 beats per minute (bpm) although varied depend-ing on apparatus and traindepend-ing phase and approached 60% to 65% of participants’ maximum heart rate.

Testing was conducted twice at the central Research Laboratory of the Joseph Rusiecki Olsztyn University in the morning (08:00–11:00). Baseline tests (pre-test) were completed at the beginning of the participants’ training program and a post-test was administered after 12 months of them regularly training. The period be-tween pre- and post-tests constituted a complete annual

macrocycle. Participants had to attend at least 90% of the training units to be included in data analysis and attend both pre- and post-tests. Prior to testing parental consent and child assent were obtained, and the study received the approval of the local ethics committee.

Participants’ body height was measured with a cali-brated WB-150 medical weight/stadiometer (ZPU Tryb-Wag, Poland) with an accuracy of 0.1 cm. Body mass (with an accuracy of 0.1 kg) and body fat content (with an accuracy of 0.1%) were measured using a Bc 418 MA electronic body composition analyzer (Tanita, Japan) using bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA). During meas-urement participants were barefoot wearing underwear only. All anthropometric measurements were performed by the same certified investigator and in accordance with international standard procedures.

Physical fitness was determined by administering eight tests included in the Eurofit physical fitness bat-tery [17]. Due to the research task, an assessment of car-dio-respiratory endurance was not performed. As gym-nasts regularly train barefoot, the flamingo balance test (FLB) was performed without footwear. To allow for a more detailed interpretation of participants’ physical fitness, an additional variable was introduced – rela-tive hand strength (HGR) in relation to body mass (N/kg). Body height and mass, body mass index, and the results of the Eurofit tests were evaluated by percentile ranks and point scores according to national norm score ta-bles and percentile charts [18, 19].

Following data collection, descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) were calculated. Minimal and maximal values and the coefficient of variation (cV) for each variable were presented. The significance of differences between the results of measurements carried out at pre- and post-test was assessed using student’s t test for dependent samples (paired t tests). Tables show the t values and the p values. The alpha-level for sig-nificance was set to 0.05. statistical analysis was per-formed using the statisticaPL v. 10 software package (statsoft, UsA).


Table 1 shows the results of the basic anthropometric characteristics of tested gymnasts in both trials (pre- and post-), the significance of differences between the variables, and biological (physical) development based on norms for the age-specific general population (scaled scores and percentile ranks) [18, 19].

The participants were below the norms for body height and mass at pre- and post-test in comparison with the general population of Polish girls in this age group [18], scoring 46–48 points in the 34.5–42.1 per-centiles, respectively. Nonetheless, there was a signifi-cant increase (p = 0.0000) in body height and mass after the one-year period as the obvious result of biological development. It should be noted that an increase in body


T. Boraczyński, M. Boraczyński, s. Boraczyńska, Anna Michels, Training effects in young female gymnasts Ta bl e 1 . B as ic a nt h ro po m et ri c c ha ra cte ri st ic s o f t he a rt is ti c g ym na st s ( N = 3 2) V ar iab le s A ge ( ye ar s) B M ( kg ) BH (c m ) BF ( % ) FM ( kg ) FF M ( kg ) FM /F FM (% ) BM I ( kg /m ²) Pre -te st M ( SD ) 7.23 (0.28) 23.22 (2.76) 122.55 (3.78) 18.11 (3.51) 4.25 (1.18) 18.97 (1.96) 22.33 (5.25) 15.42 (1.28) M in-M ax 6.60–7.50 18.50–29.20 116.5–130.0 10.60–24.90 2.23–7.27 15.17–22.99 11.86–33.16 13.12–17.89 c V 3.87 11.88 3.09 19.40 27.71 10.33 23.52 8.29 c. /p ts . 38.2/47 38.2/47 38.2/47 Post -te st M ( SD ) 8.21 (0.31) 25.71 (2.94) 128.81 (4.10) 19.16 (2.51) 4.95 (0.99) 20.76 (2.26) 23.81 (3.86) 15.45 (1.20) M in-M ax 7.60–8.53 19.60–31.80 121.1–139.5 13.60–24.10 3.37–6.86 16.01–25.32 15.74–31.75 13.39–18.25 c V 3.74 11.43 3.18 13.12 20.03 10.87 16.22 7.78 c. /p ts . 34.5/46 42.1/48 30.9/46 D iff er en ce (%) 13.83 10.73 5.11 5.80 11.65 9.43 6.62 0.22 t –21.55 –19.59 1.80 –4.683 –12.549 –1.719 –0.372 p 0.0000 0.0000 0.0816 0.0000 0.0000 0.0957 0.7121 BM – b od y m as s, B H – b od y h ei gh t, B F – b od y f at , F M – f at m as s, F FM – f at -f re e m as s, F M /F FM – r at io o f f at m as s a nd f at f re e m as s, B M I – b od y m as s i nd ex , M – m ea n va lu e, sD – s ta nd ar d d ev ia ti on , M in – m in im al va lu e, M ax – m ax im al va lu e, c V – co ef fi ci en t o f va ri at ion , c . – p er ce nt ile , p ts . – p oi nt s, t – t va lu e i n st ud en t’s t te st , p – va lu e b as ed o n t he st ud en t’s t te st Ta bl e 2 . Re su lt s o f t he E ur of it p hy si ca l f it ne ss te st s o f t he a rt is ti c g ym na st s ( N = 3 2) V ar iab le s FL B (n) PL T ( s) sA R (c m ) sB J (c m ) H G R ( N ) H G R ( N /kg ) sU P (n) BA H (s) sH R (s) Pre -te st M ( SD ) 18 .7 8 ( 6. 33 ) 18 .57 (2 .6 2) 9. 69 (4 .91 ) 11 9. 1 ( 11 .2 ) 10 4. 8 ( 20. 4) 4. 51 (0. 69 ) 20. 63 (4 .7 1) 13 .8 7 ( 9. 01) 24 .5 6 ( 2. 17 ) M in –M ax 5– 31 13 .9 2– 25 .7 2 0 –21 10 0 –14 0 71 –14 2 2. 81 –6 .2 4 7– 29 1. 80 –3 6. 22 21 .1 5– 30 .5 8 c V 33 .7 2 14 .1 0 50 .6 7 9. 27 19. 42 15 .3 0 22 .83 65. 00 8. 82 c. /p ts . 6. 7/3 5 72 .6 /5 6 84 .1 /6 0 86 .4 /61 57. 9/ 52 90 .3 /6 3 90 .3 /6 3 72 .6 /5 6 Post -te st M ( SD ) 11 .8 8 ( 4. 35 ) 15 .8 1 ( 1. 88) 13 .91 (4 .3 7) 12 8. 3 ( 9. 7) 13 0. 0 (2 1. 9) 5. 06 (0 .6 1) 26 .5 0 (3 .7 2) 34 .1 6 ( 17. 53 ) 24 .4 6 ( 2. 33) M in –M ax 5-2 2 12 .2 6– 19 .85 4–2 3 11 0 –14 5 91 –1 78 3. 91 –6 .4 8 20 –36 9. 87 –8 2. 62 21 .0 0 –2 9. 78 c V 36 .6 0 11 .8 7 31 .4 4 7. 59 16 .8 2 12 .12 14 .0 2 51 .3 1 9. 53 c. /p ts . 18 .4 /4 1 86 .4 /61 95 .5 /6 7 86 .4 /61 65 .5 /5 4 98 .6/ 72 99. 8/ 79 61. 8/ 53 D iff er en ce (%) 36 .7 7 –14 .8 3 43 .55 7. 74 24 .1 1 12 .1 0 28 .4 8 14 6. 28 –0 .38 t 6. 81 7. 45 –6 .88 –6 .0 8 –9 .20 –5 .21 –7. 91 –7. 68 0. 21 p 0. 0000 0. 0000 0. 0000 0. 0000 0. 0000 0. 0000 0. 0000 0. 0000 0.8 34 1 FL B – f la m in go b al an ce te st , P LT – p la te t ap pi ng , s A R – s it-an d-re ac h te st , s BJ – s ta nd in g b ro ad j um p, H G R – h an d g ri p te st , s U P – si t-up s, B A H – b en t a rm h an g, sH R – 1 0 × 5 m s hu tt le r un , M – m ea n va lu e, sD – s ta nd ar d d ev ia ti on , M in – m in im al va lu e, M ax – m ax im al va lu e, c V – co ef fi ci en t o f va ri at io n, c . – p er ce nt ile , pt s. – p oi nt s, tt va lu e i n st ud en t’s t te st ; p – va lu e b as ed o n t he st ud en t’s t te st ; va lu es i n i ta lic s d en ote e st im ate d p er ce nt ile r an ks a nd p oi nt s co re s


T. Boraczyński, M. Boraczyński, s. Boraczyńska, A. Michels, Training effects in young female gymnasts

mass can negatively influence performance in aesthetic sports and in those which a high power to body mass ratio is important. Body mass index (BMI) in both tri-als was tri-also below the general population norms of Polish girls (47–46 pts. and 38.2–30.9 c., respectively).

Body fat percentage (BF) was at the same level in both trials. However, due to natural biological growth and increases in body size (body height and mass), fat mass (FM) increased significantly (p = 0.0000). It should be noted that the size of the coefficient of variation (cV) of the percentage of body fat (BF) and fat mass (FM) strongly decreased in the post-test. This reflects a de-crease of inter-individual diversity in the tested group. Fat-free mass increased since fat mass and body mass either remained constant or decreased. The ratio of fat mass to fat-free mass (FM/FFM) is important for physical fitness especially in exercises where the whole body is rapidly lifted (running, jumping). As there are elements of running, jumping, or lifting the body in each gymnastics exercise on different apparatuses, the impor-tance of the FM/FFM ratio is significant. In the present study, this ratio did not change significantly in the group during the observed period (p = 0.0957).

Table 2 shows the participants results in the eight Eurofit tests [16], which were evaluated with respect to national norms [see 19 for a reference sample] based on research conducted in the 2009/2010 school year on a representative group of Polish girls (N = 23704) from all regions of Poland.

The results of the six physical tests performed at base-line (pre-test) were at a high and very high level (ranging from 57.9–90.3 c. and 53–63 pts.) according to the score tables. This indicates the high level of physical fitness of the tested participants at the beginning of their training. The percentile and point scores in seven of the Eurofit tests (PLT, sAR, sBJ, HGR, sUP, BAH, sHR) were summed in order to assess the impact of the annual training cycle on the results of applied tests. subsequently, the mean values were calculated and amounted to 79.17 c. and 58.85 pts. at baseline (pre-test) and 84.86 c. and 63.86 pts. at post-test, improving by 7.18% and 8.51%, respectively.

The static balance test results (flamingo balance test – FLB) could not be directly estimated from the per-centile charts and point tables due to the used metho-dology to modify performance. This test was performed without footwear, which undoubtedly made it more difficult to maintain balance and therefore allowed for greater differentiation of the results. However, the par-ticipants significantly improved in this test (36.77%, p = 0.0000). An ad hoc assessment on the basis of the score tables showed they increased from 6.7 c. and 36 pts. to 18.4 c. and 41 pts.

The results of the test measuring the speed of upper limb movement (plate tapping test – PLT) were already at a high level at baseline based on the score tables (72.6 c. and 56 pts.) and significantly improved (14.83%, p = 0.0000) at post-test (86.4 c. and 61 pts.).

The results of the test measuring flexibility of the sciatic-tibial muscles and lower back (sit-and-reach test – sAR) were at a very high level at baseline (84.1 c. and 60 pts.). The participants’ results improved after the 12-month gymnastics training program by 43.55% (p = 0.0000), obtaining 95.5 c. and 67 pts. At the same time, the differences between the results of the indi-vidual participants, as evidenced by significantly lower coefficients of variation (50.67% at pre-test and 31.44% at post-test), decreased significantly.

The test results of lower limb explosive power (stand-ing broad jump – sBJ) improved relatively little (7.74%), but the increase was statistically significant (p = 0.0000). An evaluation of the results based on the score tables showed the same scores in both trials (86.4 c. and 61 pts.), suggesting no effects of training.

The results of the hand grip test (HGR) showed a sig-nificant increase after 12 months of gymnastics training (24.11%, p = 0.0000). Additionally, the relative strength of the hand to body mass increased significantly during the observation period although the increase was rela-tively lower (12.10%, p = 0.0000). An evaluation of the results based on the percentile charts showed this mo-tor skill was performed with greater success (from 57.9 to 65.5 c.).

A very high level of performance at baseline (90.3 c. and 62 pts.) was found in the test measuring abdominal muscular and hip flexor endurance (sit-ups test – sUP) and a significant improvement was noted at post-test (28.48%, p = 0.0000). An evaluation of the results based on the score tables also showed substantial progress (98.6 c and 72 pts.).

Very high performance (90.3 c. and 63 pts.) was ob-served in the test of arm and shoulder muscular endur-ance (bent-arm hang test – BAH), showing the highest (of all tests) progress at post-test (146.28%; p = 0.0000). An evaluation of the test results based on the score tables also showed very high results (99.8 c. and 79 pts.). Out of all the Eurofit tests, this test also showed the largest variability between the participants and the relatively largest range of decrease in these differences post-test as evidenced by the size of the coefficient of variation (65.31% at pre-test and 51.31% at post-test).

There were no statistically significant improvements after 12 months of gymnastic training only in the speed-agility test (10 × 5 m shuttle run – sHR). An evaluation of the test results showed a decline from 72.6 c. and 56 pts. to 61.8 c. and 53 pts. based on the score tables. Overall, the level of physical fitness of the participants improved significantly in seven of the Eurofit motor fitness tests.


significant increases in physical fitness and the com-prehensive and the harmonious development of the body constitute some of the key objectives in gymnastics


T. Boraczyński, M. Boraczyński, s. Boraczyńska, Anna Michels, Training effects in young female gymnasts

and are closely linked to the development of motor abili-ties (strength, speed, endurance, agility, flexibility, co-ordination and others) [20, 21].

The specialized literature emphasizes the impor-tance of somatic build and body composition in gym-nastics [1, 5, 12, 14]. Di cagno et al. [12] pointed out the significant influence of somatic build, body tissue composition, and jumping abilities on results in gym-nastics and recommended using measurements of these factors to identify the predispositions of children dur-ing the selection process. A study conducted by Fjør-toft [22] that included 75 children in Norway (37 girls) aged 5–7 years showed a strong correlation between the results of the Eurofit test battery and age. However, this author found that basic somatic parameters (body height and mass) had no significant effect on individual physi-cal fitness variables in this studied age group.

In the present study, lower values of the girls’ body height and mass were recorded than what is considered to be the population norm for Polish girls [18]. Body height and mass were located at the 38th percentile at

baseline (pre-test), suggesting that mostly short and slim girls were selected. coaches confirmed that taller and heavier girls have more difficulties in performing tech-nically difficult exercises. According to Malina et al. [23], gymnasts as a group demonstrated patterns of growth and maturation similar to those observed among early-, normal-, and late-maturing individuals who were not athletes. Given the significant impact of biological age on body size and physical fitness, this suggests the need to identify the biological age of girls at the recruiting and selection process in gymnastics. This can facilitate the identification of athletes with the most beneficial fea-tures and somatic build proportions as well as provide an objective assessment of physical fitness. specialists dealing with the issues surrounding gymnastics training emphasize that sports results at the highest level require comprehensive physical and mental preparation [1, 5, 8, 11, 14, 16, 21, 24–26]. sawczyn [25] underlined the importance of physical fitness in gymnastics, showing systematically increasing differences over time between gymnasts and non-trained subjects aged 10–15 years in flexibility, speed, strength, agility and endurance tests. However, some researchers [27, 28] have stated that it is not currently possible to establish a cause-effect relation-ship between training and performance in gymnastics due to limitations in the available data, inadequate de-scriptions of the training processes, failure to consider other factors affecting growth and maturation, and failure to address epidemiological causation criteria. Attempts to isolate the effects of gymnastics training on physical fitness took into account covariates such as age, body size, and physical maturity. Kochanowicz [5] pro-posed a complex set of indicators to assess motor prep-aration at the initial stage of training in gymnasts aged 6–7 years. These included an evaluation of balance function, agility, and special technical skills. The basis

for selecting these indicators was the results of earlier studies on the physical fitness of gymnasts by the au-thor [14, 15].

The findings discussed above suggest the importance of systematically monitoring comprehensive, targeted, and specific indicators of physical fitness during the gymnastics training process. currently different mo-tor tests are used to assess physical fitness at the initial stage of training. One of the most developed and recom-mended by the council of Europe is the Eurofit physical fitness test battery [17]. Mahoney and Boreham [29] found the Eurofit test battery to be accurate and reliable in the assessment of comprehensive physical fitness in school children. The Eurofit test battery has been pre-viously applied in the analysis of the biological and motor development of children and youth in Poland. A nationwide reference in the form of percentiles charts was developed in a 1999 study conducted on a popula-tion of more than 73000 children and adolescents (in-cluding more than 35000 girls) attending various schools in Poland [30]. Additional studies were performed in the 2009–2010 school year to update national norms by analyzing a population of 49612 youths (including 23704 girls) [31]. Research was also undertaken to de-termine the relationship between physical fitness levels estimated by the Eurofit test battery and health levels in 615 adolescents aged 11–16 years [32].

The use of the Eurofit test battery to study the effects of training on physical performance has also been un-dertaken in many scientific studies. Baquet et al. [33] conducted an experiment to evaluate the effects of a 7-week interval training program on the physical fit-ness of children (girls and boys aged 8–11 years). The experiment showed that high-intensity speed interval training influenced a significant improvement in explo-sive strength (standing broad jump) and agility (10 × 5 m shuttle run). It is also known that physical fitness im-proves with age during childhood and adolescence, although this development may not be equal for all mo-tor skills [34]. This fact was confirmed by the test re-sults of the examined gymnasts in the present study.

Taking into account the findings of the above-cited works, the high and very high levels of performance in the six Eurofit tests at the beginning of training pro-gram confirm the accurate selection of the girls to the gymnastics program. However, the physical fitness test results in the group of gymnasts were highly varied, from a –0.38% decrease in the agility test (sHR) to a 146.28% increase in the test of muscular endurance of upper limbs and shoulder girdle (BAH). Nonetheless, a considerable statistically significant improvement (p < 0.0000) was recorded in seven out of the eight ad-ministered motor tests. In addition, evaluation of the results of six tests after the participants had completed the 12-month training program found significant in-creases in the percentile ranks and point scores based on the national norms charts and scales. The large increases


T. Boraczyński, M. Boraczyński, s. Boraczyńska, A. Michels, Training effects in young female gymnasts

in the results of six tests as well as the very high level of performance point to the high effectiveness of the adopted training program in comprehensively shaping the physi-cal fitness levels of the tested participants.

The largest improvement (146.3%) was observed in the test of muscular endurance of the upper limbs and shoulder girdle (BAH) out of all the eight tests. signifi-cant improvements (28.48%) were also seen in the test of abdominal muscular and hip flexors endurance (sUP). The results of both of these tests are determined to a large extent by muscular endurance, a core focus in gym-nastics training.

The second largest improvement among the tested group was noted in the test measuring flexibility of the sciatic-tibial muscles and lower back (sAR). The partici-pants scored very high at baseline (84.1 c. and 60 pts.) and after 12 months of gymnastics training they per-formed exceptionally well (pre-test: 95.5 c. and 67 pts.). such dynamic progress in this test was undoubtedly the result of training aimed at increasing joint mobility and skeletal muscle length due to its particular impor-tance in the effective performance of gymnastic exer-cises. This improvement is even more impressive when considering the results of Malina et al. [35], who found that girls aged 5 and 11 years show relatively stable re-sults in the Eurofit’s flexibility test (sAR) and only after 14 years of age does performance increase.

The speed and frequency of movements is known to develop the most intensively between 7 and 12 years of age [35]. The processes in charge of maintaining opti-mal body position mature around 6 years of age and the ability to maintain body balance improves together with age [35]. The results of physical fitness tests in the present study confirm these observations. A significant improvement was observed in the static balance test (FLB), which probably was the result of intense pro-prioceptive training and vestibular stimulation. These in concert resulted in the rapid improvement of the balance system’s functioning.

In studies on young elite gymnasts in three age groups (9–10, 11–12, and 13–15 years), increasing age and competitive level was correlated with improved motor abilities both in regards to fitness level and co-ordination ability [1, 25, 36]. Particularly high levels were demonstrated in such abilities as: overall coordi-nation, static and dynamic balance, kinesthetic skills differentiating movement, endurance, eye-hand coor-dination, and simple and complex reaction times. The results presented in the present study are consistent with the cited authors. The tested gymnasts featured large improvements in the static balance test (FLB), which was previously mentioned to be most likely due to a strong stimulation of various systems (proprioception and vestibular systems) that constitute the balance system.

One of the most puzzling issues in the present study was the lack of significant progress in the agility test (10 × 5 m shuttle run – sHR). According to Malina et al.

[35] the results of the standing broad jump (sBJ), shuttle run (sHR), and bent arm hang (BAH) increase linearly with age in both sexes until they reach adolescence. The reasons for the lack of substantial progress in the shuttle run are unclear considering the gymnastics training the participants performed every day with a large pro-portion of the exercises aimed at shaping agility. This points to the need for more in-depth analysis of the train-ing process used by trainers with focus on the applied methods, means, and training load volumes.

The findings of the authors presented above show the importance of establishing the level of physical fit-ness preparation both at the recruitment and selection stages as well as throughout the training process. At the same time, researchers have pointed out that only cer-tain psychophysical and functional features are modi-fied, and to a relatively small extent, during long-term training [1, 15, 37]. Hence, these findings underline the need to seek candidates with high predispositions in those motor skills essential in gymnastics at the re-cruitment and selection stages.

Zaporozhanov et al. [16] investigated the gymnastic predispositions of seven girls aged 7.7 years and eleven girls aged 9.3 years. Based on the size of the differences in each of the skills assessed by the Eurofit test battery, they distinguished four tests as the most accurate and reliable indicators of gymnastic predisposition: the speed of the upper limb movement (PLT), jumping ability (sBJ), agility (sHR), and relative hand strength (HGR). The authors stated that the results of these four tests differen-tiated the groups of gymnasts to the smallest extent and, in their opinion, provided evidence of the strong de-termination of genetic abilities that influence the results in the selected tests. The authors postulated that research be performed throughout the training process, as it could identify the improvement dynamics of individual motor abilities and the impact of these abilities on gym-nasts’ performance level. These four tests were also dis-tinguished in another study on twelve gymnasts aged 6.9 years and twelve aged 10.0 years. [11]. In a similar vein, Hutchison et al. stressed the importance of con-tinually monitoring jumping abilities in elite gymnas-tics training [13].

The results of the present study are in line with the findings reported previously. The smallest increases among the Eurofit tests after a year’s worth of gym-nastics training were observed in the tests measuring agility (sHR), jumping ability (sBJ), relative hand strength (HGR), and the speed of upper limb movement (PLT). This demonstrates the strong genetic determination of the abilities that determine the results of these tests. simultaneously, this points to the usefulness of these tests in diagnosing the predispositions of girls at the selection stage in artistic gymnastics.

In light of the above-discussed findings and the re-sults presented in this study, it appears that the Eurofit battery of tests provides reliable and useful data in


Figure 1. Measurement fields of the 12 examined body areasBody area Description of area
Figure 2. Graphical distribution of mean temperatures   in analysed body areas
Table 5. Mean temperature differences between the examined body areas in the older group Test
Figure 3. Test results of climbing a gymnastics ladder  before (Test1) and after (Test2) the school year for


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