Change in the mindset of a paediatric exercise physiologist: A review of fifty years research

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In this review, the career of a pediatric exercise physiologist (HCGK) is given over a period of almost 50 years. His research was concentrated on the relationship of physical activity (physical education, sport, and daily physical activity) with health and fitness in teenagers in secondary schools. (1) His first experiment was an exercise test on a bicycle ergometer to measure aerobic fitness by estimating physical work capacity at a heart rate of 170 beats/minute (PWC170). (2) Secondly, a randomized control trial (RCT) was performed with an intervention of more intensive physical education (PE) with circuit interval training during three lessons per week over a period of six weeks. (3) Thereafter, a second RCT was performed with an intervention of two extra PE lessons per week over a whole school year. The results of these two RCTs appeared to be small or nonsignificant, probably because the effects were confounded by differences in maturation and the habitual physical activity of these teenagers. (4) Therefore, the scope of the research was changed into the direction of a long-term longitudinal study (the Amsterdam Growth And Health Longitudinal Study). This study included male and female teenagers that were followed over many years to get insight into the individual changes in biological factors (growth, fitness, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension) and lifestyle parameters such as nutrition, smoking, alcohol usage, and daily physical activity. With the help of new advanced statistical methods (generalized estimating equations, random coefficient analysis, and autoregression analysis) suitable for longitudinal data, research questions regarding repeated measurements, tracking, or stability were answered. New measurement techniques such as mineral bone density by means of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) showed that bone can also be influenced by short bursts of mechanical load. This changed his mind: In children and adolescents, not only can daily aerobic exercise of at least 30 to 60 minutes duration increase the aerobic power of muscles, but very short highly intensive bursts of less than one minute per day can also increase the strength of their bones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2888
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Aerobic power
  • Bone density
  • Longitudinal designs
  • Physical activity
  • Randomized control trials

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