The effects of increased physical activity upon physical growth, maturation and performance were investigated in samples of 32 active and 32 nonactive Belgian boys followed longitudinally from 13 to 18 yr of age. Active boys participated in sports activities for more than 5 h.wk-1.yr-1 during each of the first 3 yr of the study, in addition to compulsory physical education. Nonactive boys participated in less than 1.5 h.wk-1.yr-1 during the first 3 yr of the study, but did participate in required school physical education. Anthropometric dimensions included lengths, breadths, circumferences, and skinfolds. A physical fitness test battery was administered at each observation including nine health- and performance-related tests. Skeletal maturation was assessed; sociocultural determinants and sports participation were obtained through written questionnaires verified by a control interview. No significant effects of increased physical activity were observed on growth in somatic dimensions, including skinfolds, age at peak height velocity, skeletal maturation, and most of the physical fitness components. More active boys obtained better results from 14 yr onward only for pulse recuperation and for bent arm hang. These results can be generalized to the average population but do not necessarily apply for highly trained and selected elite athletes.
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