, Volume 105, Issue 4, pp 533-541
Date: 19 Nov 2008

Effects of a daily school based physical activity intervention program on muscle development in prepubertal girls

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This 12-month prospective controlled intervention evaluated the effect of a general school based physical activity program on muscle strength, physical performance and body composition in prepubertal girls. Fifty-three girls aged 7–9 years involved in a school based exercise program [40 min/day of general physical activity per school day (200 min/week)] were compared with 50 age-matched girls who participated in the general Swedish physical education curriculum (mean 60 min/week). Body composition (DXA), isokinetic peak torque (PT) of the knee extensors and flexors at 60 and 180°/s, and vertical jump height (VJH) were assessed at baseline and 12 months. The annual gain in weight was similar between the groups, but there was a greater increase in total body and regional lean mass (P < 0.05) and fat mass (P < 0.01) in the exercise group. Mean gains in knee extensor PT at 60 and 180°/s were 7.0–7.6% greater in the exercise group (P ranging <0.05–<0.001). No significant differences were detected in VJH. In conclusion, increasing school based physical education to at least 3 h/week provides a feasible strategy to enhance the development of muscle strength and lean mass in prepubertal girls.