© Borgis - New Medicine 2/2006, s. 35-38
Monika Radzimirska-Graczyk, Wojciech Chalcarz
Development of children and school youth and sports activity
Department of Food and Nutrition, University School of Psychical Education, Poznań, Poland
Head of Department: Prof. Wojciech Chalcarz, MD, PhD
The aim of the paper was to present and discuss the bibliographical data concerning the development of children and school youth as well as accident rate and the incidence of traumas in sport.
It is advisable to perform systematic and interdisciplinary research on the children and youth engaged in sports activities. Thanks to the above-mentioned research it will be possible to coach them in such a way to provide their optimum physical, mental and intellectual development and protect them against sports traumas and contusions.
To achieve success in contemporary sport it is necessary to start doing it as early as in the childhood. In order to make training easier for this group of children and youth both in Poland and worlwide sports classes and schools have been established.
Although, there is a scarcity of papers showing the entire impact of sports activities on the school children and youth. The papers published so far focus only on the development of school children and youth [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], their diet [3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], nutrition state [3, 10], accident rate and the incidence of traumas in sport and how to prevent them [9, 13, 14].
The aim of this paper was to present and discuss the bibliographical data concerning the development of children and school youth as well as accident rate and the incidence of traumas in sport.
School age characteristics
The school age according to Woynarowska  is divided into three subperiods, namely younger school age from 7 to the age of 10-12 i.e. till the first signs of sexual maturation, puberty period also called adolescence i.e. on average from the age of 10 to 15 in the case of girls and from 12 to 17 in the case of boys, and the juvenile period lasting till the age of about 18 in girls, whereas in boys ranges from 20 to 22, i.e. a few years after the reaching sexual maturation. [1, 6, 15].
The younger school age features a slower growth rate. About the age of 10 child´s brain achieves its final size. In a part of children at the age of 7-8 occurs a higher growth rate, i.e. the so-called ”school growth spurt” or ”pre-pubertal spurt” . In this period the average height and body weight in girls is lower than in boys whose muscle weight is also higher [5, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19].
The sexual maturation period features the most intense growth rate beyond the infancy period and it is called pubertal spurt. The pubertal spurt in girls begins about the age of 10 with the peak at the age of 12, usually one year before the first menstruation, whereas in boys about the age of 12.3 with the peak at the age of 14. As a result of these changes the body acquires typical features, respectively, feminine or masculine. The most typical feature for this period is the large population differentiation, e.g. the differences in body height can exceed 20 cm [1, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20].
The juvenile period in girls ends at about the age of 15, whereas in boys it is considerably longer. In this period girls tend to accumulate fat tissue and their body weight grows, whereas in boys there is a considerable skeletal system growth that lasts till the age of 25 and their weight grows mainly as a result of growth in muscle weight 6, 15, 21].
At all school ages being assessed we observe very complex processes of maturation and development of reproductive system. The processes are also accompanied by social and mental development. [4, 20, 22]. At the same time, there are some changes in fitness and physical activity of the children and youth [22, 23, 24]. Both fitness and their physical activity activity is little, that is why we should do our best to provide modern curricula for physical education classes at school as well as active rest and health promoting behaviours outside school. [2, 22, 24, 25].
We observe a considerable difference in puberty period occurrence and the rate of changes involved, which results in losing the importance of calendar age and using the Tanner scale to define the level of puberty in children [26, 27].
The level and rate of growth in children and youth at school age depends much on environmental/economic factors [6, 20, 23, 24]. The inequalities in the development of Polish children and youth have occurred for years and consist among others in the fact that mean body height is lower and the age of first menstruation is later, the less educated and professionally qualified are the parents, the higher number of children in the family, smaller the town they live in and their financial potential is worse or father is older .
The process of biological development acceleration, called development acceleration differs much. The biggest differences have been found between the development of children and youth in large urban centers as compared with rural areas of North-East Poland and the submountain region. The difference in the body size of children and youth from large urban areas is insignificant . Irrespectively of region, we can see a systematic growth in the body height and weight in children and youth as compared with the generation of children of the same age observed several years ago, i.e. the so-called secular trend [15, 20, 21, 24, 28].
The impact of sports on the development and health of children and school youth
While reviewing the currently available literature it can be found that a moderate physical activity has a beneficial effect on child´s development, as it protects it against obesity, hypertension and osteoporosis at older age . The lack of physical activity contributes to occurring the defects and dysfunctions of the motion organs. In addition, the sports activity of children and youth shapes their emotional life and develops their interests [30, 31, 32].
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