A+ in Fitness

Physically fit kids perform better in schoolwork

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Here's another incentive for students to get fit and stay that way as they head back to school: better grades.

Students who are in good physical shape perform better in school than those who aren't, according to a recently published study.

In line with the growing evidence that physical activity benefits health, researchers said that active kids would also benefit in other aspects of their well-being including mental health and academic performance.

"Work out with your kids."

The study, led by Dawn Coe, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, included 312 students in grades 6 through 8. Dr. Coe, who was a doctoral student at Michigan State University while conducting the study, had the students do a series of push-ups, sit-ups and shuttle runs.

Students were grouped based on the number of fitness tests they could do out of five total tests. The tests covered a number of physical fitness aspects, including muscular strength, flexibility, endurance and body fat.

Over the course of one school year, she measured participants' academic achievement in four core classes and through a standardized test. Students received regular grades A through F.

Students who were the most fit earned better grades and scored higher on standardized tests than those who weren't as fit, researchers found.

Kids' level of endurance and muscular strength were linked the most with academic achievement.

"Not only does improving fitness have physical health implications for the child, it also has implications for their academic achievement," Dr. Coe said in a press release.

Students who had lower levels of fitness had worse class grades. They completed fewer than five fitness tests.

"Kids who are physically active experience greater oxygen and blood flow to the brain," says Rusty Gregory, a certified physical trainer and dailyRx Contributing Expert.

"This increases their attention span and concentration therefore, leading to better academic achievement."

The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Funding information and conflicts of interest were not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 28, 2012
Last Updated:
December 30, 2012