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Fit kids do better in the classroom

Research shows physically active and fit children and adults will perform better at academic endeavours....

fit kids better schoolResearch conducted at the University of Illinois have found a strong relationship between academic achievement and fitness scores. The study demonstrates that exercise may also improve cognitive functioning in older adults.

‘We have found a strong relationship between academic achievement and fitness scores,’ said Darla Castelli, a professor of kinesiology whose area of expertise is effective physical education practices. ‘Those who scored well in academics also did well in physical fitness. We're not suggesting that if we run more laps it will make us smarter, but there does appear to be a correlation.’

Castelli noted that teachers who work closely with young and pre-adolescent children have long suspected a link between physical fitness and cognitive function. ‘Anecdotal evidence is plentiful’, she said, ‘but empirical data to back those assumptions have been harder to come by.’

Working with the cooperation of physical education teachers, the researchers measured the physical fitness of some 500 third, fourth and fifth-graders. They measured subjects' aerobic capacity, flexibility and muscle fitness. Cognitive function was determined by analysing scores on standardised academic performance tests and by observing and measuring neuroelectric and behavioral responses to stimulus discrimination tasks.

’We looked at the relationship between age and fitness from both a neuroelectric and behavioral perspective,’ Hillman said. ’Behaviourally, these effects showed up in that these fit children made fewer errors than sedentary ones,’ Hillman said. In terms of response speed, the fit children were still slower than fit and sedentary adults, but were faster than sedentary children, he said.

Hillman - who stressed the preliminary nature of their findings - said the research team is analysing data for three related studies and plans to present a symposium on their findings next spring. ’There's a lot of basic research that needs to go on before we can determine what underlies achievement,’ Hillman said.

Source: IHRSA

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