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The association of generic physical activity and specific exercise with motor abilities


The evidence of effective leisure time physical activity modes for motor abilities of middle-aged adult population is scarce. The purpose of this study was to compare motor abilities of physically active and inactive middle-aged and to examine the associations of different exercise modes and former and recent leisure time physical activity with motor ability and some physical tests.


The leisure time physical activity of participants (men n=69, women n=79; aged 41—47 years) was ascertained by modified Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire including questions on frequency, duration and intensity of recent leisure time physical activity and former leisure time physical activity and exercise modes.

Motor abilities in terms of balance, agility and coordination were assessed with a battery of 9 tests supplemented with 5 physical fitness tests. Multiple statistical methods were used in analyses conducted separately for men and women.


The weekly MET hours of recent leisure time physical activity correlated highest with test of agility, static balance and 2 km walking among men, and with the static balance, 2 km walking, and muscle strength tests among women.

In stepwise regression analyses among men the only statistically significant predictor for most of the tests was exercising of several games.

For women the history of leisure time physical activity more than 3 years was the strongest predictor for good test result almost in all tests.


Participants with long-term and regularly practised leisure time physical activity had better motor performance and especially variety of games is appropriate for many components of motor ability.

Versatility, regularity and permanence of exercising including specific training and overall activity develop both motor abilities and physical fitness.


Marjo Rinne, Senior Researcher 



Rinne M, Pasanen M, Miilunpalo S, Mälkiä E, Is generic physical activity or specific exercise associated with motor abilities? Med Sci Sports Exerc 2010;42(9):1760-1768.

Last updated: 2.11.2020

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