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The effects of extracurricular physical education classes on gross motor development in primary school children – pilot study


Study aim: The aim of the study was to investigate the changes in gross motor skills in children participating and not participating in a project of extracurricular physical education classes in primary schools called “From fun to sport”.

Material and methods: Thirty-one children in the first grade of primary school participated in the study (16 boys and 15 girls). A pedagogical quasi-experiment was applied. Children from the experimental group participated in an additional 45-minute lesson. To assess gross motor skills the TGMD-2 (Test of Gross Motor Development-2) was used.

Results: Statistically significant differences were observed in the level of gross motor skills between children attending extracurricular physical education classes and those who did not participate in such activities (GMDQ: Δ boys = 11.86, p = 0.032; Δ girls = 13.1, p = 0.036).

Conclusion: The experiment revealed large effects of additional activities of the project on increase of children’s motor skills level. Additional time should be included in physical education for the development of gross motor skills in physical education classes at the initial stage of school education.

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Effects of military basic training on VO2max, body composition, muscle strength and neural responses in conscripts of different aerobic condition


Study aim: The purpose of this study was to evaluate neuromuscular adaptations in conscripts with different fitness levels (VO2max) during 8 weeks of military basic training (BT).

Material and methods: Twenty-four male conscripts (18–21 years) were divided into two groups (Good Fitness [GF] and Low fitness [LF]) based on their VO2max at the beginning of BT. Body mass (BM), fat free mass (FFM) and Fat% were measured after 2, 4, and 7 weeks of training. VO2max, maximal isometric leg press force (MVC), H-reflex (Hmax/Mmax) at rest and V-wave (V/Mmax) during maximal isometric plantarflexion were measured from the soleus muscle at the beginning, after 5, and after 8 weeks of training.

Results: FFM decreased significantly in LF after 7 weeks of training (–3.0 ± 1.7%, p < 0.001), which was not observed in GF. Both GF (6.9 ± 4.6%, p < 0.01) and LF (5.7 ± 4.6%, p < 0.01) showed improved VO2max after 5 weeks, with no changes during the last 3 weeks. A main effect of training was observed in decreased leg press MVC (–7.3 ± 9.3%, F = 4.899, p < 0.05), with no between-group differences. V-wave was significantly lower in LF during 5 (–37.9%, p < 0.05) and 8 (–44.9%, p < 0.05) weeks.

Conclusion: Poor development of the neuromuscular system during BT suggests that explosive and/or maximal strength training should be added to the BT protocol for all conscripts regardless of fitness level. In addition, individualized training periodization should be considered to optimize the training load.

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Female sex hormones and the recovery from exercise: Menstrual cycle phase affects responses


Study aim: Evidence supports female sex hormones have an influencing effect on amultitude of physiological and psychological systems related to exercise. Little is known, however, whether is effect persist into the recovery from exercise. Our objective was to examine aspects of muscle damage/inflammation process during recovery in healthy, exercise-trained women following endurance activity at the mid-follicular (MF; low sex hormone level) and mid-luteal (ML; elevated sex hormone levels) phases of their menstrual cycle.

Material and methods: The MF and ML exercise sessions consisted of running for 90 minutes at 70% VO2max on atreadmill in a controlled laboratory environment. Menstrual cycle phase was hormonally confirmed, diet and physical activity was control throughout the study. Outcome measures were: blood creatine kinase (CK) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) assessed at immediate-post exercise (IP), 24-hour and 72-hour into recovery. Statistics involved ANOVA procedures.

Results: At 24-hours and 72-hour into recovery CK activity was greater in MF than ML (p < 0.05) while for IL-6 at IP, 24-hour and 72-hour responses were significantly greater at MF than at ML (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Amore robust recovery CK and IL-6 response occur in the MF of the menstrual cycle when female sex hormones are reduced. This finding suggests female sex hormone changes due to menstrual cycle phase affect the physiologic responses during the extended recovery period from intensive exercise in eumenorrheic women.

Open access
Finite element analysis to assess the biomechanical behavior of a finger model gripping handles with different diameters


Study aim: Interactions between the fingers and a handle can be analyzed using a finite element finger model. Hence, the biomechanical response of a hybrid human finger model during contact with varying diameter cylindrical handles was investigated numerically in the present study using ABAQUS/CAE.

Materials and methods: The finite element index finger model consists of three segments: the proximal, middle, and distal phalanges. The finger model comprises skin, bone, subcutaneous tissue and nail. The skin and subcutaneous tissues were assumed to be non-linearly elastic and linearly visco-elastic. The FE model was applied to predict the contact interaction between the fingers and a handle with 10 N, 20 N, 40 N and 50 N grip forces for four different diameter handles (30 mm, 40 mm, 44mm and 50 mm). The model predictions projected the biomechanical response of the finger during the static gripping analysis with 200 incremental steps.

Results: The simulation results showed that the increase in contact area reduced the maximal compressive stress/strain and also the contact pressure on finger skin. It was hypothesized in this study that the diameter of the handle influences the stress/strain and contact pressure within the soft tissue during the contact interactions.

Conclusions: The present study may be useful to study the behavior of the finger model under the static gripping of hand-held power tools.

Open access
Functional assessment of women practising combat sports and team sports using the Functional Movement Screen


Study aim: The objective of the study was to reveal the functional limits of the motor system in women practising combat sports and team sports.

Material and methods: 102 women (mean age 25.2 years, body mass 62.2 kg, body height 168.3 cm) practising competitive ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) taekwon-do (n = 22), Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) (n = 15), football (n = 35) and basketball (n = 30) participated in the study. The assessment tool was the FMS test, comprising 7 movement patterns scored on a scale of 0–3.

Results: The studied female athletes earned medium scores. Women practising combat sports scored generally higher in the FMS test, although the difference was not significant (combat sports – mean value 15.57 ± 2.39, team sports – mean value 14.72 ± 1.93, difference – p = 0.07). Statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed in the second (hurdle step) and the fifth pattern (active straight leg raise – ASLR). The aggregated FMS results of female taekwon-do (15.77) and BJJ athletes (15.22) were similar. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed in one pattern (ASLR). Women practising football (14.77) and basketball (14.67) attained a similar level of results in the test. Statistically significant differences were noted in two trials: footballers scored higher in the ASLR task (p < 0.05), and basketball players scored higher in rotary stability (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: A statistically significant result in the FMS test was obtained by martial arts athletes, which may point to a higher level of functional movement, which may be a result of more universal training.

Open access
The impact of fatigue on agility and responsiveness in boxing


Study aim: To assess the effects of fatigue on agility and responsiveness in boxing.

Material and methods: Agroup of 20 amateur boxers aged 14–45 years participated in the study. Ditrich’s test and acomputer test, both measuring the speed of reaction to avisual stimulus, as well as agility run and 4 × 10 m shuttle run with carrying blocks, both measuring agility, were performed. Running agility and reaction speed were measured at 3levels of fatigue expressed by the heart rates. The capacity to maintain the highest possible level of measured variables was assessed by applying the performance index (PI) (mean value of three or four (in the case of Ditrich’s test) repetitions to the maximum one). Student’s t-test for dependent data and Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used in data analysis, the level p ≤ 0.05 being considered significant.

Results: Both running agility and responsiveness markedly decreased with mounting fatigue, e.g. running speed from 1.73 ± 0.12 m/s to 1.55 ± 0.11 m/s.

Conclusion: Developing anaerobic endurance would markedly improve agility skills and speed of reaction to external stimuli. Measuring the performance index (PI) from short, maximal, repeated exertions spaced with constant intermissions may be a valuable tool in directing training activities towards development of selected elements of boxers’ physical fitness.

Open access
Kinematic quantification of straight-punch techniques using the preferred and non-preferred fist in taekwon-do


Study aim: The aim of the current study is to reveal the characteristics of punch techniques applied in taekwon-do.

Material and methods: The skill quantification was performed on 10 taekwon-do ITF competitors. During the test, they were asked to perform straight punches using both the preferred and the non-preferred fist into the air (i.e. without a physical target) in the lateral position employing both traditional and sport style. Applying reflective markers on fists, the punching kinematic data were collected in the HML (Human Motion Lab). For data analyses, the average and standard deviation of duration, velocity and acceleration were used. The Mann-Whitney U test was applied to determine possible differences (p < 0.05) between the dominant fist and non-dominant fist as well as between the traditional and sport punch.

Results: The results revealed that the sport punch is notably faster (shorter punch duration) with a higher acceleration than the traditional one. There is no significant difference between the preferred and non-preferred fist. The results could suggest that the left and right straight punches during taekwon-do training sessions are equally developed. However, the different goals of the punch techniques, i.e. the traditional punch for generating power and the sport punch for quickness, cause significant differences (p < 0.01) in action time.

Conclusion: The results imply that a trade-off strategy may play a role in a match, namely a powerful punch for a possible final win or a quick punch for point collection.

Open access
The level of moral competences of pre-service PE teachers – a reason to worry?


Study aim: The main purpose of this study was to examine the level of moral competences of 437 pre-service physical educa­tion (PE) university students. It was also designed to evaluate the level of moral competency and the correlations with factors (i.e. Parents, Religion, School education, PE teacher, Sport coach, Studies, Media and Peers) potentially influencing moral development in pre-service PE teachers. Material and methods: The study included data collected in 2017 from 216 male and 221 female students aged 21.5 ± 1.85 from the faculty of Physical Education in Poznań, Poland. The students were categorised into three levels of moral competences, after which possible correlations between the factors influencing moral development were examined. The Moral Competence Test (MCT) survey was used to measure the ability to rate arguments by their moral quality. Participants were requested to confront two moral dilemmas and agree or disagree with the statements which were presented to them. Results: The results suggest that a vast majority of students (78.7%) present a very low level of moral competences, and with regard to the factors influencing moral development, the lowest value was attributed to PE teachers. Moderate positive correla­tions were found between School education and PE teacher, and between Sport coach and PE teacher. Conclusions: The findings indicate the need for more attention to be paid to moral education in teacher training in PE.

Open access
Measuring muscle tone with isokinetic dynamometer technique in stroke patients


Study aim: Increased muscle tone, a common consequence of stroke, has neural and non-neural components. Spasticity is related to the neural component. Non-neural resistance arises from passive stiffness. This study was designed to assess the feasibility of using isokinetic dynamometry to evaluate wrist flexor muscle spasticity in stroke patients.

Materials and methods: Twenty-six patients with hemiplegia in the subacute phase of stroke participated in this study. An isokinetic dynamometer was used to stretch wrist flexor muscles at four velocities of 5, 60, 120 and 180°/s on both the paretic and non-paretic sides. Peak torque at the lowest speed (5°/s) and reflex torque at the three higher speeds were quantified. Peak torque at the lowest speed was attributed to the non-neural component of muscle tone, and was subtracted from the torque response at higher velocities to estimate reflex torque (spasticity). Data from the two sides were compared.

Results: There was no significant difference in peak torque between the paretic (2.47 ± 0.22 N·m) and non-paretic side (2.41 ± 0.28 N·m) at the lowest velocity of 5°/s (p=0.408). However, compared to the non-paretic side, the paretic side showed higher reflex torque (p<0001), and reflex torque increased rapidly with increasing velocity (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The isokinetic dynamometer distinguished spasticity from the non-neural component and showed higher reflex torque on the paretic side compared to the non-paretic side. This instrument is potentially useful to assess the efficacy of therapeutic interventions aimed at modifying spasticity.

Open access
Physical fitness of women over 50 years of age and self-esteem quality of life and health


Study aim: The aim of this study was to examine whether in women over 50 years of age the rate of decline in physical fitness with age affects the self-assessment of health and quality of life.

Material and methods: The survey was conducted among 113 women, aged 50–70. The women were divided into two groups: of low and high assessment of their own health and quality of life (WHOQOL-bref). The strength of the dominant hand muscles was tested and the Senior Functional Fitness Test was performed [21]. Linear regression analysis was used in the studies.

Results: Women satisfied with their health and quality of life were characterized by alower rate of decline in physical fitness after the age of 50, in particular the strength of the dominant hand muscles, aerobic capacity, upper body flexibility, and speed and coordination, than the dissatisfied or undecided women.

Conclusions: Physical fitness of women is important in assessing one’s own health and quality of life.

Open access