Physical Fitness Levels of Adolescents in the Île-de-France region: Comparison with European Standards and Relevance for Future Cardiovascular Risk
"Background: Physical fitness is an important determinant of health in children and adolescents. The main objective of our study was to assess physical fitness by gender in French schoolchildren in the Île-de-France region and to compare the results with other European countries. We were particularly interested in the relationship between physical fitness and future cardiovascular risk. Methods: Participants were 1,851 French youth (946 boys, 905 girls) from 11 to 15 years old living in the Ile-de-France region (Paris, France). Cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular endurance, speed, flexibility, and agility/coordination were tested. Trained physical education teachers performed all tests. Independent t-tests were used to compare differences between variables in participants. Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients were used to assess the relationship between body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status, and physical fitness. Results: Generally, boys were more physically fit than girls, with agility tests showing the most significant difference. Subjects of normal weight had significantly better results than overweight or obese adolescents (p < 0.05). Subjects with high socioeconomic status were more physically fit than those with low socioeconomic status (p < 0.05). Results also showed that the percentage of adolescents at increased risk of future cardiovascular disease was 15.3% and 10.2% for boys and girls, respectively. Conclusions: French schoolchildren living in the Île-de-France region demonstrate relatively poor physical fitness when compared with existing European test results. Introducing a health promotion curriculum in Île-de-France schools is suggested to improve health and physical fitness."