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article imageChildren in rural areas have better motor skills

By Tim Sandle     Dec 30, 2019 in Health
A study reveals that children living in rural areas outperform those living in metropolitan areas when it comes to motor skills and other elements of physical fitness. The differences in relation to the living environment were found to be significant.
Overall the researchers from the University of Jyväskylä found that residential density correlates with the motor skills of children plus their willingness to engage in outdoor play and to take part in organized sports. The results related to children living in Finland. The study was a comparison of children of equivalent ages living in the countryside and in towns.
With the focus on motor skills, these related to the function, which involves the precise movement of muscles with the intent to perform a specific act. These are learned abilities to cause a predetermined movement outcome with maximum certainty. The researchers looked specifically at locomotor, object control and balance skills. To achieve optimal motor skills, practice is required.
The opportunity for practice as influenced by the environment was a key part of the research. Hence, the findings indicate that the amount of time spent outdoors together with participation in organised sports supports motor development.
According to one of the researchers, Donna Niemistö: "When a child feels as competent in a given motor task, (s)he will practice more, and through the increased repetition, (s)he will gain better motor skills."
Opportunities to develop motor skills are lower in metropolitan areas compared with the countryside, the study results reveal. This type of data should be considered by policy makers, according to the researchers, in terms of the amount of time children are given to play sports and the type environment they are afforded in which to engage in physical activity.
The results have been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The research paper is headed "Environmental Correlates of Motor Competence in Children—The Skilled Kids Study."
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