Profiles of physical fitness and fitness enjoyment among children : associations with sports participation

De Meester, An and Norjali Wazir, Mohd Rozilee Wazir and Lenoir, Matthieu and Bardid, Farid (2022) Profiles of physical fitness and fitness enjoyment among children : associations with sports participation. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 93 (1). pp. 26-35. ISSN 0270-1367 (

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Purpose: The present study examined whether groups of children with different physical fitness and fitness enjoyment profiles could be identified and, if so, whether the different groups varied from one another in terms of organized sports participation. Method: Five hundred and fifty-eight 8–11-year-olds (56.99% boys) participated in this cross-sectional study. Physical fitness and fitness enjoyment were assessed with seven items from a standardized test battery and a pictorial scale containing pictures referring to the enjoyment in those seven physical fitness tests, respectively. To examine whether groups with different fitness and enjoyment profiles could be identified, we conducted cluster analyses based on children’s standardized physical fitness and fitness enjoyment scores. A two-way ANCOVA (sex*cluster) was conducted to investigate differences in weekly organized sports participation among each of the identified groups while controlling for age. Results: Cluster analyses revealed two groups with aligned levels of physical fitness and fitness enjoyment (i.e., relatively low-low and relatively high-high) and two groups with unaligned levels (i.e., relatively low-moderate and relatively high-moderate), respectively. Both groups with relatively high fitness scores were found to spend significantly more time in organized sports (M = 2.01 h and 2.29 h, respectively) than the two groups with relatively low fitness scores (M = 1.08 h and 0.98 h, respectively), irrespective of their enjoyment levels. Conclusion: Increasing physical fitness levels (especially among those children with suboptimal enjoyment levels) may lead to increased organized sports participation, while increased organized sports participation in its turn may lead to higher fitness levels. As such, participation in sports programs should be promoted in children of all age groups.