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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Mar;105(4):533-41. doi: 10.1007/s00421-008-0932-2. Epub 2008 Nov 19.

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

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  • 1Clinical and Molecular Osteoporosis Research Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


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 degrees /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 degrees /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.

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