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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2001 Dec;56(12):B497-502.

Familial aggregation of 7-year changes in musculoskeletal fitness.

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  • 1School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to determine the degree of familial resemblance in baseline and 7-year changes in musculoskeletal fitness. Data from the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey and the Campbell's Survey 7-year follow-up were used. The sample consisted of 1264 people (635 males and 629 females) between the ages of 7 and 69 years for whom measurements of musculoskeletal fitness were available at baseline. A subsample of 834 people had measurements at both baseline and 7-year follow-up. Sit-and-reach trunk flexibility, number of push-ups without time limit, number of sit-ups in 60 seconds, and hand-grip strength were used as indicators of musculoskeletal fitness. The data were adjusted for the effects of age and body mass index (and baseline level of the variable for changes) by using regression procedures, and they were standardized to zero mean and unit variance within each of the four sex-by-generation groups (fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters). Familial correlation models were fitted to the data by using the computer software SEGPATH. The results indicate significant familial resemblance for all indicators of musculoskeletal fitness for baseline measures and 7-year changes. The heritabilities, or the percentages of the total variance attributable to heredity, were 64% for trunk flexibility, 37% for push-ups, 59% for sit-ups, and 48% for grip strength. Similarly, heritabilities for the change scores were 48% for trunk flexibility, 52% for push-ups, 41% for sit-ups, and 32% for grip strength. The results suggest that familial, and perhaps genetic, factors are important in explaining the variance in musculoskeletal fitness not only cross-sectionally but also for changes over time.

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