Trends in Physical Fitness Among School-Aged Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

Bojan Masanovic, Jovan Gardasevic, Adilson Marques, Miguel Peralta, Yolanda Demetriou, David Joseph Sturm, Stevo Popovic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Introduction and Objective: This systematic review aimed to analyse the international evolution of fitness with its distributional changes in the performance on tests of physical fitness among school-aged children and adolescents. Methods: In accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, the search was undertaken in four international databases (ERIC, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science) to identify the studies reporting temporal trends in the physical fitness among school-aged children and adolescents. Results: A total of 485 potential articles were identified, of which 19 articles were relevant for the qualitative synthesis; 1,746,023 children and adolescents from 14 countries (China, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Mozambique, Poland, USA, Lithuania, Portugal, Canada), for the period between 1969 and 2017 were included. The subjects were tested using 45 motor tests from eight battery tests. The quality of the study in eight articles was rated as strong, while in 11 articles it was rated as moderate. Discussion: The vast majority of studies show a constant decline in strength and endurance. Three Chinese studies show an increase in strength from 1985 to 1995 and then a decline until 2014. For endurance, similar patterns were found in the two most comprehensive Chinese studies. The decline in flexibility is also evident in European countries. For agility, speed, balance, and coordination, the trend differs among populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number627529
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2020


  • fitness changes
  • physical fitness
  • physical performance
  • secular trends
  • youngsters


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