Physical activity, school performance may be linked: study

January 2, 2012

A systematic review of previous studies suggests that there may be a positive relationship between physical activity and the academic performance of children, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Amika Singh, Ph.D., of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues reviewed evidence about the relationship between physical activity and because of concerns that pressure to improve test scores may often mean more instructional time for classroom subjects with less time for physical activity.

The authors identified 10 observational and four interventional studies for review. Twelve of the studies were conducted in the United States, plus one in Canada and one in South Africa. Sample sizes ranged from 53 to about 12,000 participants between the ages of 6 years and 18 years. Follow-up varied from eight weeks to more than five years.

"According to the best-evidence synthesis, we found strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance. The findings of one high-quality intervention study and one high-quality observational study suggest that being more physically active is positively related to improved academic performance in children," the authors comment.

Background information in the article suggests that exercise may help cognition by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain, increasing levels of norepinephrine and endorphins to decrease stress and improve mood, and increasing growth factors that help create new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity.

Still, "relatively few studies of high methodological quality have explored the relationship between physical activity and academic performance," the authors conclude. No study in their systematic review used an objective measure of physical activity.

"More high-quality studies are needed on the dose-response relationship between and academic performance and on the explanatory mechanisms, using reliable and valid measurement instruments to assess this relationship accurately," the authors conclude.

Explore further: The Royal Wedding: Marriage could help boost couple's long-term physical and mental health

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166[1]:49:55.

Related Stories

The Royal Wedding: Marriage could help boost couple's long-term physical and mental health

April 29, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- As William and Catherine look forward to their big wedding day they could also be looking forward to a life of improved mental and physical health which will grow over time, according to a University academic ...

Exercise has numerous beneficial effects on brain health and cognition, review suggests

July 25, 2011
It's no secret that exercise has numerous beneficial effects on the body. However, a bevy of recent research suggests that these positive effects also extend to the brain, influencing cognition. In a new review article highlighting ...

Recommended for you

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

Study: Eating at 'wrong time' affects body weight, circadian rhythms

July 18, 2017
A new high-precision feeding system for lab mice reinforces the idea that the time of day food is eaten is more critical to weight loss than the amount of calories ingested.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.