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7. Does living setting influence training adaptations in young girls

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Does living setting influence training adaptations in young girls?
M. C. Gallotta, L. Guidetti, G. P. Emerenziani, E. Franciosi, C. Baldari
Department of Health Sciences, University of Rome ‘‘Foro Italico,’’ Rome, Italy
Corresponding author: Carlo Baldari, Department of Health Sciences, University of Rome ‘‘Foro Italico,’’ Piazza Lauro De
Bosis, 15, I - 00194 Rome, Italy. Tel: 0039 06 36733227, Fax: 0039 06 36733371, E-mail: carlo.baldari@iusm.it
Accepted for publication 8 July 2009
To assess whether rural or urban setting may influence
young girls’ fitness and coordinative abilities training adap-
tations following dance training. Forty-four dancers aged
11–12 years (21 urban, 23 rural) attended a 6-month dance
training while continuing to practice their habitual physical
activities (PA). Dancers’ fitness and motor coordination
abilities were assessed by pre- and post-intervention tests
(anthropometric measures, 1-mile run/walk, sit and reach,
standing long jump, hand grip and four field tests of
kinaesthetic discrimination and response orientation). PA
was assessed using a self-report recall measure. After the
intervention period, rural dancers significantly improved in
1-mile run/walk, lower limb kinaesthetic discrimination and
response orientation ability tests. Significant differences
between two groups in upper limb response orientation
ability test were found. Both groups showed a significant
increase in body height and weight. Multiple regression
analysis indicated that time in nonorganized PA predicted
some fitness and coordinative changes (1-mile run/walk,
lower limb response orientation and kinaesthetic discrimi-
nation ability tests) following the training period, although
the percentage of variance it could explain was moderate.
Our results showed that training adaptations of some fitness
and coordinative performances could be influenced by set-
ting characteristics that provided opportunities for different
types of PA.
Participation in physical activity (PA) during adoles-
cence can promote the development of fitness and
motor abilities (Okely et al., 2001), the maintenance
of strength, flexibility, balance and coordination and
it can aid the development of motor skills (Sleap &
Tolfrey, 2001). Sallis et al. (1998) have identified a
number of environmental, social and demographic
variables as determinants of children’s physical ex-
ercise. Setting (urban/rural) is an important condi-
tioning factor for participation in PA and for the
development of its components (fitness and coordi-
nation). A number of studies have been conducted to
identify the association between youths’ PA and
setting variables (Sallis et al., 1997, 1998, 2000;
Felton et al., 2002; Loucaides et al., 2004; Davison
& Lawson, 2006).
In a study with Greek-Cypriot children (Loucaides
et al., 2004), the opportunity to spend their free time
outdoor and to use open playgrounds and sports
facilities in the immediate distance from their own
home resulted particularly important for PA engage-
ment because children depended on adults for trans-
port to the places where they could be physically
active. Furthermore, a recent study provided evi-
dence that the availability of neighborhood facilities
for PA was relevant for youths, who were unable to
drive and whose activity was often limited to the
immediate distance they were able to walk or bicycle
(Cohen et al., 2006). Adults usually take children to
the places where they can be physically active by car
or other means of transport; because of wider dis-
tances, this happens to be more frequent in cities
than in small villages. A cross-sectional study of
adolescents provided evidence for a link between
the presence of smaller or local roads, where the
traffic was limited and speed limits were low, making
easier to move by walking or biking, and the possi-
bility for youths to manage autonomously own free
time and sport activities (Nelson et al., 2006). There-
fore, cities offer many possibilities to play organized
sport activities, but few possibilities to practice free
and nonorganized daily PA.
It has been well documented that the ease of access
to safe and outdoor sites in the rural communities
promoted many types and levels’ activity of children
such to favor the development of fitness parameters
and coordinative abilities (Tsimeas et al., 2005).
Children who live in urban centers spent more time
playing video games or watching TV than rural
children who spent most of their free time in recrea-
tional and outdoor activities (Loucaides et al., 2004).
The combination of factors such as availability of
open-spaces and neighbors’ safety could aid children
to spend more time in outdoor free activities.
According to Johns and Ha (1999) lack in availability
and proximity to PA facilities and spaces reduced
Scand J Med Sci Sports 2011: 21: 324–329 & 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S
doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01009.x
324
time that children spent outdoor and therefore their
possibility to practice PA. Considering characteris-
tics such as safety, availability of spaces and children
time amount spent in outdoor activities, small rural
communities provided favorable settings to PA prac-
tice. In fact, as reported by Sallis et al. (2000) time
spent outdoor was a factor highly correlated to
children’s activity level.
Recently, some authors studied whether living in
urban or rural settings could affect aspects of physi-
cal fitness in children (Pen˜a Reyes et al., 2003;
Tsimeas et al., 2005), but to the best of our knowl-
edge, no study was conducted to investigate possible
influences of setting on training adaptations.
Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess
whether rural or urban setting may influence young
girls’ fitness and coordinative abilities following
modern-jazz dance training.
Materials and methods
Participants
Forty-four healthy female modern-jazz dancers aged 11–12
years volunteered to participate in this study. Twenty-one
dancers lived in the metropolitan districts of Rome. Twenty-
three dancers lived in a small rural community (Sant’Oreste)
located about 50 km north of the city of Rome. Their anthro-
pometric indices at both baseline and follow-up were shown in
Table 1. All participants were dance beginners. They regularly
trained 1 h twice a week.
The institutional review boards of the University of Rome
‘‘Foro Italico’’ approved the investigation. Informed consent
forms were obtained from both parents and dancers before
study participation.
All dancers involved in this study continued to practice
their habitual (organized and nonorganized) PA.
Physical fitness and coordination assessments
Pre- and post-intervention anthropometric measurements as-
sessed dancers’ weight, height and body fat. Weight and height
were measured using a scale and a stadiometer to the nearest
0.5 kg and 0.1 cm, respectively. Triceps and calf skinfolds
thickness was measured to the nearest 0.2mm using a calliper
(Harpenden, St. Albans, UK) on the right side of the body. All
skinfolds were taken three times by the same experimenter to
ensure consistency in results with the average of the three
values used as a final value. To predict body fat (%FM) the
equation described by Slaughter et al. (1988) was selected for
this investigation.
Pre- and post-intervention tests assessed dancers’ physical
fitness (EUROFIT, 1988; The Cooper Institute, 2006) and
coordinative abilities (Hirtz et al., 1985).
Fitness field tests included the following:
� The 1-mile run/walk test to assess aerobic power and
cardiorespiratory endurance. Subjects were instructed to
run/walk to cover the distance as fast as possible. Walking
could be interspersed with running; subjects were allowed to
walk but not to stop if they were exhausted. The test was
scored in minutes and seconds.
� The sit and reach test to assess lower back/upper thigh
flexibility.