Fitness is the foundation of physical literacy

We need objective data about physical fitness as an essential part of promoting adequate physical literacy in the population. Having a solid grasp of one’s own physical fitness will ensure that children and adolescents can choose to engage in, and maintain, purposeful physical activities throughout their lifetime, including all the health benefits associated with a healthy, active lifestyle.

We need objective data about physical fitness as an essential part of promoting adequate physical literacy in the population.

When establishing a physical fitness monitoring system, the focus should be on the contextual information provided to teachers and parents. Fitness testing is much more than just ‘one more school assessment’ since it helps increase the physical literacy of the parents as well. Schools are in a unique position to positively affect physical activity and fitness of their students not just in the short term, but by instilling values and skills that will follow these children throughout their lives. How fit a child is now is related to how fit and active they will become in adulthood. The multidimensional and interactive nature of physical fitness is what makes it a central aspect of creating lifelong healthy and sustainable habits.

Physical fitness is critical to physical literacy. Those who have high physical literacy are more attuned to how their body works, what it needs to function properly, are better able to foster life-long physical activity habits.

Indeed, the definition of physical literacy can be described as ‘the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value, and take responsibility for, maintaining purposeful physical pursuits/activities throughout the life-course’. This was written by The International Physical Literacy Association. Physical literacy includes four different important elements: the affective, physical, cognitive and behavioural.

These elements reciprocally-interact across four core domains:

  • Motivation and Confidence (Affective): refers to an individual’s enthusiasm for, enjoyment of, and self-assurance in adopting physical activity as an integral part of their life.
  • Physical Competence (Physical): refers to an individual’s ability to develop movement skills and patterns, and the capacity to experience a variety of movement intensities and durations. Enhanced physical competence enables an individual to participate in a wide range of physical activities in many different settings.
  • Knowledge and Understanding (Cognitive): includes the ability to identify and express the essential qualities that influence movement, understand the health benefits of an active lifestyle, and appreciate appropriate safety features associated with physical activity in a variety of settings and physical environments.
  • Engagement in Physical Activities for Life (Behavioural): refers to an individual taking personal responsibility for physical literacy by freely choosing to be active on a regular basis. This involves prioritizing and sustaining involvement in a range of meaningful and personally challenging activities, as an integral part of one’s lifestyle.

Each of these elements affects the another, however movement is at the very core of physical literacy and Physical Competence is its known key domain. Physical Competence is determined by one’s level of physical fitness and fundamental motor skills, which are reciprocally interconnected. Put simply, acquiring motor skills results in physical fitness and vice versa. Moreover, enhanced Physical Competence enables an individual to participate in a wide range of physical activities in multiple contexts (such as land, water, ice, air) and settings (school, household, commuting, leisure, occupation, competition). An individual who is making progress on their physical literacy journey will be confident in movement and have the capacity to interact with their environment effectively in a variety of different and often unpredictable situations. Supported by their knowledge of physical activities, physical fitness, motor skills and sport, this person can develop positive attitudes and motivation for both short-term and lifelong physical active behaviour. To this end, only a person who has their own physical fitness at a level they feel competent at will and has motor skills can move effectively and aesthetically to be confident in movement and possess motivation for physical activity. 
Fundamental motor skills are just that, fundamental to child development!


Download paper in full lenght

Your internet browser is outdated!

For better and user friendly experience use one of the following internet browsers.