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Res Dev Disabil. 2019 Jan;84:131-138. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2018.07.009. Epub 2018 Aug 7.

Time for change: Fitness and strength can be improved and sustained in adolescents with low motor competence.

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Institute for Health Research, The University of Notre Dame Australia, 19 Mouat Street (PO Box 1225), Fremantle, WA, 6959, Australia.
The School of Health Sciences, The University of Notre Dame Australia, 19 Mouat Street (PO Box 1225), Fremantle, WA, Australia. Electronic address:



There are few exercise interventions focused on adolescents with low motor competence and most interventions are short with little follow up and engagement over time.


Fifty-eight adolescents with low motor competence (39 males, Mean Age = 13.6, SD = 1.4 years) attended an exercise clinic twice a week for each 13 week program. Two programs ran each year, and participants attended for as long as they felt progress was made or they turned 18 years of age. Performance on the Multistage Fitness Test (MSFT), Curl-ups, Grip Strength, 1RM Leg press and Chest Press, Vertical Jump and Standing Broad Jump (SBJ) were recorded pre and post each program for up to six years. Linear Mixed Modelling (LMM) determined changes in fitness measures over time whilst adjusting for gender, age and Neuromuscular Developmental Index (McCarron, 1997).


All fitness measures increased, and specifically four of the seven fitness outcomes showed significant improvement over time (MSFT,p =  0.011; curl-ups, p < 0.001, grip strength p = 0.003, and SBJ p = 0.006).


An individually tailored regular exercise program in a supportive environment can achieve exercise adherence and sustainable improvements in fitness outcomes for adolescents with low motor competence. Future research should consider the addition of a comparison LMC control group to increase understanding of the intervention effect.


Developmental coordination disorder; Exercise; Intervention; Longitudinal; Low motor competence

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