Effectiveness of professionally-guided physical education on fitness outcomes of primary school children

Francesco Lucertini, Liana Spazzafumo, Francesca de Lillo, Debora Centonze, Manuela Valentini, Ario Federici

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Physical education (PE) at school is an important starting point for long-term interventions improving quality of life in elderly. To evaluate the effectiveness of professionally led PE on motor and health-related abilities of Italian primary schoolchildren (3rd-5th graders), three schools were assigned to the experimental groups "A" (38 pupils, 17 M, 21 F) and "B" (37 pupils, 16 M, 21 F), and to control group "C" (26 pupils, 18 M, 8 F). All groups underwent a six-month, twice-a-week (60 min each session) PE intervention. The PE program of the EGs was age-tailored, included strength training and was administered by specialised teachers. Group A and B programs differed in the strength training devices used, while they were identical in terms of training load. The control group program was not structured and administered by generalist teachers. At baseline and follow-up, children underwent a motor and health-related abilities test battery. At follow-up, children in group C gained significantly more weight than children in the EGs and scored significantly less than the children in the EGs in the following assessments: counter movement jump (C:+0.15% vs. A:+4.1% and B:+6.99%), plate tapping (C:+13.56% vs. A:+19.37% and B:+36.12%), sit-and-reach (C:-311.15% vs. B:+409.57%), pinch strength (C:+2.39% vs. B:+10.83, on average) and sit-up (C:+29.69% vs. A:+72.61%). In conclusion, specialist-led pupils demonstrated greater increases in some motor and health-related abilities tests compared to generalist-led peers, while different strength training devices produced comparable increases of strength in both EGs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-590
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • children
  • fitness
  • physical education
  • Primary school
  • specialist teachers
  • strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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