Physical fitness is a powerful marker of health in children and adolescents. Previous research has established positive associations between physical fitness, psychological and emotional traits, cognitive function (e.g., attentional capacity), and academic achievements (e.g., grade in mathematics) in youth. Furthermore, there is evidence indicating that low levels of physical fitness during childhood and adolescence are associated with an increased risk for overweight/obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
The negative effects of increased sedentariness, declines in physical fitness and concomitant increases in time spent with media intensified public, scientific and political discussions. Various professional organisations (e.g., Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Germany; German Olympic Sports Confederation) recommended to continuously monitor and assess youth physical fitness. In accordance with these recommendations, the Federal State of Brandenburg decided to establish the project EMOTIKON which is a German acronym for the “Assessment of physical fitness in third graders in the Federal State of Brandenburg to continuously evaluate physical education and promote physical activity and fitness”. EMOTIKON is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport, Federal State of Brandenburg, the University of Potsdam, and the State Sports Association, Federal State of Brandenburg.
The primary purpose of EMOTIKON is to assess and evaluate physical fitness of third graders aged 8.0 to 9.0 years in a state-wide effort and to deduce recommendations for the promotion of physical activity and fitness. Ever since 2009, 173,280 third graders’ (see Figure 1) physical fitness has been assessed in Brandenburg annually using an easy-to-administer, valid and reliable physical fitness test battery. The battery includes six different tests for the assessment of cardiorespiratory endurance (i.e., 6 min run test), coordination/change-of-direction (i.e., star run test), speed (i.e., 20-m linear sprint test), balance (i.e., one legged balance test), a proxy of lower limbs muscle power (i.e., standing long jump test), and a proxy of upper limbs muscle power (i.e., ball push test).
Major publications from the EMOTIKON project are listed below:
Fühner, T., Granacher, U., Golle, K., & Kliegl, R. (2021). Age and sex effects in physical fitness components of 108,295 third graders including 515 primary schools and 9 cohorts. Scientific Reports, 11, 17566. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97000-4
Fühner, T., Gebel, A. & Granacher, U. (2020). Entwicklung und Förderung von Kraft und Gleichgewicht von Kindern und Jugendlichen unter Berücksichtigung des Sportunterrichts: ein narrativer Überblicksbeitrag. Leipziger Sportwissenschaftliche Beiträge, 61 (1), 29-50.
Golle, K., Muehlbauer, T., Wick, D., & Granacher, U. (2015). Physical Fitness Percentiles of German Children Aged 9-12 Years: Findings from a Longitudinal Study. PLoS One, 10(11), e0142393.
Golle, K., Granacher, U., Hoffmann, M., Wick, D., & Muehlbauer, T. (2014). Effect of living area and sports club participation on physical fitness in children: a 4 year longitudinal study. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 499.