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Sports Med. 1992 Mar;13(3):194-213.

Effectiveness of training programmes for prepubescent children.

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School of Physical and Health Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.


Early investigators suggested that endurance training had little influence upon the aerobic function of the prepubescent child. It is shown that the twin explanations of this supposed phenomenon (a high intrinsic level of physical activity and an immaturity of biochemical systems) have little foundation. Moreover, critical examination of the original experiments shows a number of problems of experimental design, often including an inadequate sample size, a lack of control group, an inappropriate pattern of training relative to the initial fitness of the child, and too short a period of observation. Recent, well-designed studies all show a response in prepubescent children. Comparison with adults is hampered by difficulties in matching training intensity, but there is no immediate evidence that the training response of the prepubescent child is less than in an older person. The main basis for the increase of oxygen transport seems an increase of cardiac stroke volume. Plainly, the development of athletic performance and the attack upon cardiac risk factors can be begun before puberty, although in the average prepubescent it may be more important for the school programmes to develop positive, lifelong attitudes, than to maximise aerobic function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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