Developmental coordination disorder and aerobic fitness: is it all in their heads or is measurement still the problem? Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is characterized by motor inproficiency, resulting in significant impairments in social and/or academic functioning. About 5-9% of all school-age children are affected. Previous research has shown that children with DCD have lower aerobic fitness levels than children without the disorder, although the reasons for this have not been tested in the literature. A potential explanation may lie in perceived adequacy regarding performance in physical activity. Although negative perceptions of adequacy in children with DCD likely reflect an accurate appraisal of actual physical abilities, aerobic fitness tests typically require minimal coordination skills. Children who perceive themselves to be less adequate are unlikely to persist at a task and may give up sooner on these tests of endurance. Using a large community based sample of children ages 9 through 14 (n=586), we examine whether differences in aerobic fitness (assessed by performance on a 20-m shuttle run test) between children who meet the criteria for DCD (n=44) and those who do not (n=542) is due to differences in perceived adequacy toward physical activity. Our results show that one-third of the effect of DCD on VO(2) can be attributed to differences in perceived adequacy. These results suggest that at least part of the reason children perform less well on tests of aerobic endurance is because they do not believe themselves to be as adequate as other children at physically active pursuits. The implications of this for further research are discussed.


  • Cairney, John
  • Hay, John A
  • Wade, Terrance J
  • Faught, Brent E
  • Flouris, Andreas

publication date

  • January 2006