Does living in urban or rural settings affect aspects of physical fitness in children? An allometric approach
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate physical fitness in relation to fatness in urban and rural Greek children by means of allometric scaling. Methods: The sample consisted of 360 (189 urban and 171 rural; age 12.3±0.42 years) boys and 247 (125 urban and 122 rural; age 12.3±0.43 years) girls. The sample was highly representative (32-64%) of all 12 year old children registered in the prefecture of Trikala, Greece. All volunteers were assessed for BMI and % body fat, as well as sit and reach, basketball throw (BT), vertical jump (VJ), handgrip strength (HG), 40 m sprint, agility run, and 20 m shuttle run. To correct for possible associations between fatness and fitness, a single cause allometric scaling was employed using the natural logarithms (In) of fitness parameters that were significantly correlated with the In body fat. Results: Independent-samples t tests revealed that VJ (p<0.05) was significantly higher in boys living in urban settings compared to their rural counterparts. Similarly, BT was found to be significantly better (p<0.05) in urban girls, whereas HG was significantly higher (p<0.05) in rural girls. Conclusion: Considering that (a) only three out of the 14 possible cases (seven fitness parameters for boys and seven for girls) were significantly different between urban and rural children, and (b) these differences were not uniformly distributed in children living in either urban or rural environments, it is concluded that the place of residence has no clear impact on physical fitness as studied herein.