Dr Gregory J. Welk, PhD

Scientific Advisor of Fitnessgram, The Cooper Institute
Distribution of Health-Related Fitness in Hungarian Youth
18 September 2014, 11:00 – 12:20

The Hungarian National Youth Fitness Study (NETFIT®) provides valuable information about the distribution of health related fitness across the country. The FITNESSGRAM® standards (Healthy Fitness Zones, HFZ) are established based on the levels of fitness that are needed for good health. They vary by both age and gender to take into account differences in risk as well as changes in maturation and developmental differences. This presentation summarizes the distribution of health-related fitness based on the newly developed NETFIT® fitness battery.

The results reflect patterns of physical fitness from a compiled sample of 2,602 Hungarian youth aged 10 18 years that completed the national NetFit assessment. The specific field tests in the battery included the PACER aerobic test, body mass index (BMI), percent body fat (%BF), waist circumference (WC), curl-ups (CU), push-ups (PU), trunk extension (TE), sit-and-reach (SR), hand grip (HG), and long jump (LJ). Physical fitness scores were classified using FITNESSGRAM®-based standards developed for the Hungarian population and trends for region, age, and gender, were examined using logistic regression.

The proportion of youth reaching the HFZ were lower in less developed regions in Hungary in 2 out of 4 assessments of aerobic capacity and body composition combined (p < .05), and most of the assessments of musculoskeletal fitness (p < .05). There was variability in Healthy Fitness Zone achievement rates by age and gender for each of the tests: PACER Aerobic capacity: 45.0-88.8% (boys), 31.8-86.1% (girls); BMI: 64.1-76.3% (boys), 70.6-88.2% (girls); BF%: 33.3-80.2% (boys), 65.2%-72.5% (girls); Curl-up: 72.3-79.6% (boys), 56.6-77.1% (girls); trunk extension: 46.1-60.3% (boys); 44.1-60.9% (girls); 90º push-up: 56.6-66.4% (boys); 42.7-53.9% (girls); grip strength: 65.9-75.3% (boys), 56.9-82.8% (girls); Standing long jump: 65.2-73.4% (boys), 64.1-72.6% (girls); Back-saver sit and reach: 44.4-64.7% (boys); 27.1-61.9% (girls). Age trends were statistically significant for all assessments (p < .05) with exception of muscle strength and muscle power tests. Boys were more likely to meet the HFZ in most of the assessments (p < .05) with exception of body composition (based on BMI values) where the prevalence was higher among girls (p < .05). Discussion: This study summarizes region, age, and gender patterns of health-related fitness using a representative sample of Hungarian youth. There were consistent regional differences in youth fitness levels that can possibly be explained by regional demographic characteristics, such as economical development. The results showed declines in fitness with age in most assessments and higher achievement rates for boys compared with girls. The overall HFZ rates seem to be higher in Hungary children than in recent USA fitness test results. The results provide valuable information about baseline levels of health-related fitness in youth.