Physical Activity, Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement. Similarly, Martin and Chalmers () investigated the relationship between academic. Is there a relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement? .. Scott B. Martin, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health. The study aimed to explore the association between academic Among the physical fitness tests, just time in one-mile run/walk test added .. LeBlanc MM, Martin CK, Han H, Newton R, Sothern M, Webber LS, et al. Adiposity.
Given the importance of time on task to learning, students should be provided with frequent physical activity breaks that are developmentally appropriate. Although presently understudied, physically active lessons offered in the classroom may increase time on task and attention to task in the classroom setting.
Although academic performance stems from a complex interaction between intellect and contextual variables, health is a vital moderating factor in a child's ability to learn. The idea that healthy children learn better is empirically supported and well accepted Basch,and multiple studies have confirmed that health benefits are associated with physical activity, including cardiovascular and muscular fitness, bone health, psychosocial outcomes, and cognitive and brain health Strong et al.
The relationship of physical activity and physical fitness to cognitive and brain health and to academic performance is the subject of this chapter. Given that the brain is responsible for both mental processes and physical actions of the human body, brain health is important across the life span. In adults, brain health, representing absence of disease and optimal structure and function, is measured in terms of quality of life and effective functioning in activities of daily living.
In children, brain health can be measured in terms of successful development of attention, on-task behavior, memory, and academic performance in an educational setting. This chapter reviews the findings of recent research regarding the contribution of engagement in physical activity and the attainment of a health-enhancing level of physical fitness to cognitive and brain health in children.
Correlational research examining the relationship among academic performance, physical fitness, and physical activity also is described. Because research in older adults has served as a model for understanding the effects of physical activity and fitness on the developing brain during childhood, the adult research is briefly discussed.
The short- and long-term cognitive benefits of both a single session of and regular participation in physical activity are summarized. Before outlining the health benefits of physical activity and fitness, it is important to note that many factors influence academic performance. Among these are socioeconomic status Sirin,parental involvement Fan and Chen,and a host of other demographic factors.
A valuable predictor of student academic performance is a parent having clear expectations for the child's academic success.
Attendance is another factor confirmed as having a significant impact on academic performance Stanca, ; Baxter et al. Because children must be present to learn the desired content, attendance should be measured in considering factors related to academic performance. In addition to a general shifting of time in school away from physical education to allow for more time on academic subjects, some children are withheld from physical education classes or recess to participate in remedial or enriched learning experiences designed to increase academic performance Pellegrini and Bohn, ; see Chapter 5.
Yet little evidence supports the notion that more time allocated to subject matter will translate into better test scores. Indeed, 11 of 14 correlational studies of physical activity during the school day demonstrate a positive relationship to academic performance Rasberry et al.
Overall, a rapidly growing body of work suggests that time spent engaged in physical activity is related not only to a healthier body but also to a healthier mind Hillman et al. Children respond faster and with greater accuracy to a variety of cognitive tasks after participating in a session of physical activity Tomporowski, ; Budde et al.
A single bout of moderate-intensity physical activity has been found to increase neural and behavioral concomitants associated with the allocation of attention to a specific cognitive task Hillman et al. Visual task switching data among 69 overweight and inactive children did not show differences between cognitive performance after treadmill walking and sitting Tomporowski et al. When physical activity is used as a break from academic learning time, postengagement effects include better attention Grieco et al.
More important, teachers can offer physical activity breaks as part of a supplemental curriculum or simply as a way to reset student attention during a lesson Kibbe et al. Further, after-school physical activity programs have demonstrated the ability to improve cardiovascular endurance, and this increase in aerobic fitness has been shown to mediate improvements in academic performance Fredericks et al.
Over the past three decades, several reviews and meta-analyses have described the relationship among physical fitness, physical activity, and cognition broadly defined as all mental processes. The majority of these reviews have focused on the relationship between academic performance and physical fitness—a physiological trait commonly defined in terms of cardiorespiratory capacity e. More recently, reviews have attempted to describe the effects of an acute or single bout of physical activity, as a behavior, on academic performance.
These reviews have focused on brain health in older adults Colcombe and Kramer,as well as the effects of acute physical activity on cognition in adults Tomporowski, Some have considered age as part of the analysis Etnier et al.
Reviews focusing on research conducted in children Sibley and Etnier, have examined the relationship among physical activity, participation in sports, and academic performance Trudeau and Shephard,; Singh et al.
The findings of most of these reviews align with the conclusions presented in a meta-analytic review conducted by Fedewa and Ahn The strongest relationships were found between aerobic fitness and achievement in mathematics, followed by IQ and reading performance.
The range of cognitive performance measures, participant characteristics, and types of research design all mediated the relationship among physical activity, fitness, and academic performance. With regard to physical activity interventions, which were carried out both within and beyond the school day, those involving small groups of peers around 10 youth of a similar age were associated with the greatest gains in academic performance.
The number of peer-reviewed publications on this topic is growing exponentially. Further evidence of the growth of this line of inquiry is its increased global presence.
The Relationship Between Academic Achievement and Physical Fitness
Positive relationships among physical activity, physical fitness, and academic performance have been found among students from the Netherlands Singh et al. Broadly speaking, however, many of these studies show small to moderate effects and suffer from poor research designs Biddle and Asare, ; Singh et al. Basch conducted a comprehensive review of how children's health and health disparities influence academic performance and learning.
The author's report draws on empirical evidence suggesting that education reform will be ineffective unless children's health is made a priority. Basch concludes that schools may be the only place where health inequities can be addressed and that, if children's basic health needs are not met, they will struggle to learn regardless of the effectiveness of the instructional materials used.
More recently, Efrat conducted a review of physical activity, fitness, and academic performance to examine the achievement gap. He discovered that only seven studies had included socioeconomic status as a variable, despite its known relationship to education Sirin, Regular participation in physical activity also is a national learning standard for physical education, a standard intended to facilitate the establishment of habitual and meaningful engagement in physical activity NASPE, Yet although physical fitness and participation in physical activity are established as learning outcomes in all 50 states, there is little evidence to suggest that children actually achieve and maintain these standards see Chapter 2.
Statewide and national datasets containing data on youth physical fitness and academic performance have increased access to student-level data on this subject Grissom, ; Cottrell et al.
Early research in South Australia focused on quantifying the benefits of physical activity and physical education during the school day; the benefits noted included increased physical fitness, decreased body fat, and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease Dwyer et al. Even today, Dwyer and colleagues are among the few scholars who regularly include in their research measures of physical activity intensity in the school environment, which is believed to be a key reason why they are able to report differentiated effects of different intensities.
The researchers concluded that additional time dedicated to physical education did not inhibit academic performance Shephard et al. Longitudinal follow-up investigating the long-term benefits of enhanced physical education experiences is encouraging but largely inconclusive. Findings suggest that physical education was associated with physical activity in later life for females but not males Trudeau et al. Longitudinal studies such as those conducted in Sweden and Finland also suggest that physical education experiences may be related to adult engagement in physical activity Glenmark, ; Telama et al.
From an academic performance perspective, longitudinal data on men who enlisted for military service imply that cardiovascular fitness at age 18 predicted cognitive performance in later life Aberg et al. Specifically, they examined the individual contributions of aerobic capacity, muscle strength, muscle flexibility, and body composition to performance in mathematics and reading on the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test among a sample of children.
Their findings corroborate those of the California Department of Education Grissom,indicating a general relationship between fitness and achievement test performance.
When the individual components of the Fitnessgram were decomposed, the researchers determined that only aerobic capacity was related to test performance. Muscle strength and flexibility showed no relationship, while an inverse association of BMI with test performance was observed, such that higher BMI was associated with lower test performance. Although Baxter and colleagues confirmed the importance of attending school in relation to academic performance through the use of 4th-grade student recall, correlations with BMI were not significant.
State-mandated implementation of the coordinated school health model requires all schools in Texas to conduct annual fitness testing using the Fitnessgram among students in grades In a special issue of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sportmultiple articles describe the current state of physical fitness among children in Texas; confirm the associations among school performance levels, academic achievement, and physical fitness Welk et al.
Also using data from Texas schools, Van Dusen and colleagues found that cardiovascular fitness had the strongest association with academic performance, particularly in mathematics over reading. Unlike previous research, which demonstrated a steady decline in fitness by developmental stage Duncan et al. Aerobic fitness, then, may be important to academic performance, as there may be a dose-response relationship Van Dusen et al.
Using a large sample of students in gradesChomitz and colleagues found that the likelihood of passing both mathematics and English achievement tests increased with the number of fitness tests passed during physical education class, and the odds of passing the mathematics achievement tests were inversely related to higher body weight. Similar to the findings of Castelli and colleaguessocioeconomic status and demographic factors explained little of the relationship between aerobic fitness and academic performance; however, socioeconomic status may be an explanatory variable for students of low fitness London and Castrechini, In sum, numerous cross-sectional and correlational studies demonstrate small-to-moderate positive or null associations between physical fitness Grissom, ; Cottrell et al.
Moreover, the findings may support a dose-response association, suggesting that the more components of physical fitness e. From a public health and policy standpoint, the conclusions these findings support are limited by few causal inferences, a lack of data confirmation, and inadequate reliability because the data were often collected by nonresearchers or through self-report methods.
It may also be noted that this research includes no known longitudinal studies and few randomized controlled trials examples are included later in this chapter in the discussion of the developing brain. Physical Activity, Physical Education, and Academic Performance In contrast with the correlational data presented above for physical fitness, more information is needed on the direct effects of participation in physical activity programming and physical education classes on academic performance.
In a meta-analysis, Sibley and Etnier found a positive relationship between physical activity and cognition in school-age youth agedsuggesting that physical activity, as well as physical fitness, may be related to cognitive outcomes during development.
Since that meta-analysis, however, several papers have reported robust relationships between aerobic fitness and different aspects of memory in children e. Regardless, the comprehensive review of Sibley and Etnier was important because it helped bring attention to an emerging literature suggesting that physical activity may benefit cognitive development even as it also demonstrated the need for further study to better understand the multifaceted relationship between physical activity and cognitive and brain health.
The regular engagement in physical activity achieved during physical education programming can also be related to academic performance, especially when the class is taught by a physical education teacher. In an experimental design, seven elementary schools were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: No significant differences by condition were found for mathematics testing; however, reading scores were significantly higher in the specialist condition relative to the control condition Sallis et al.
The authors conclude that spending time in physical education with a specialist did not have a negative effect on academic performance. Shortcomings of this research include the amount of data loss from pre- to posttest, the use of results of 2nd-grade testing that exceeded the national average in performance as baseline data, and the use of norm-referenced rather than criterion-based testing.
In seminal research conducted by Gabbard and Bartonsix different conditions of physical activity no activity; 20, 30, 40, and 50 minutes; and posttest no activity were completed by 2nd graders during physical education. Each physical activity session was followed by 5 minutes of rest and the completion of 36 math problems. The authors found a potential threshold effect whereby only the minute condition improved mathematical performance, with no differences by gender.
A longitudinal study of the kindergarten class of —, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, investigated the association between enrollment in physical education and academic achievement Carlson et al. Higher amounts of physical education were correlated with better academic performance in mathematics among females, but this finding did not hold true for males. Ahamed and colleagues found in a cluster randomized trial that, after 16 months of a classroom-based physical activity intervention, there was no significant difference between the treatment and control groups in performance on the standardized Cognitive Abilities Test, Third Edition CAT Others have found, however, that coordinative exercise Budde et al.
Specifically, Coe and colleagues examined the association of enrollment in physical education and self-reported vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity outside school with performance in core academic courses and on the Terra Nova Standardized Achievement Test among more than 6th-grade students.
Their findings indicate that academic performance was unaffected by enrollment in physical education classes, which were found to average only 19 minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity.
EBSCOhost | | The Relationship Between Academic Achievement and Physical Fitness.
When time spent engaged in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity outside of school was considered, however, a significant positive relation to academic performance emerged, with more time engaged in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity being related to better grades but not test scores Coe et al. Studies of participation in sports and academic achievement have found positive associations Mechanic and Hansell, ; Dexter, ; Crosnoe, ; Eitle and Eitle, ; Stephens and Schaben, ; Eitle, ; Miller et al.
Other studies, however, have found no association between participation in sports and academic performance Fisher et al. The findings of these studies need to be interpreted with caution as many of their designs failed to account for the level of participation by individuals in the sport e.
Further, it is unclear whether policies required students to have higher GPAs to be eligible for participation. Offering sports opportunities is well justified regardless of the cognitive benefits, however, given that adolescents may be less likely to engage in risky behaviors when involved in sports or other extracurricular activities Page et al.
Although a consensus on the relationship of physical activity to academic achievement has not been reached, the vast majority of available evidence suggests the relationship is either positive or neutral. The meta-analytic review by Fedewa and Ahn suggests that interventions entailing aerobic physical activity have the greatest impact on academic performance; however, all types of physical activity, except those involving flexibility alone, contribute to enhanced academic performance, as do interventions that use small groups about 10 students rather than individuals or large groups.
Regardless of the strength of the findings, the literature indicates that time spent engaged in physical activity is beneficial to children because it has not been found to detract from academic performance, and in fact can improve overall health and function Sallis et al.
Single Bouts of Physical Activity Beyond formal physical education, evidence suggests that multi-component approaches are a viable means of providing physical activity opportunities for children across the school curriculum see also Chapter 6.
The Relationship Between Academic Achievement and Physical Fitness.
Although health-related fitness lessons taught by certified physical education teachers result in greater student fitness gains relative to such lessons taught by other teachers Sallis et al. Single sessions or bouts of physical activity have independent merit, offering immediate benefits that can enhance the learning experience. Studies have found that single bouts of physical activity result in improved attention Hillman et al. Yet single bouts of physical activity have differential effects, as very vigorous exercise has been associated with cognitive fatigue and even cognitive decline in adults Tomporowski, As seen in Figurehigh levels of effort, arousal, or activation can influence perception, decision making, response preparation, and actual response.
The Relationship Between Academic Achievement and Physical Fitness
For discussion of the underlying constructs and differential effects of single bouts of physical activity on cognitive performance, see Tomporowski Diagram of a simplified version of Sanders's cognitive-energetic model of human information processing adapted from Jones and Hardy, For children, classrooms are busy places where they must distinguish relevant information from distractions that emerge from many different sources occurring simultaneously.
A student must listen to the teacher, adhere to classroom procedures, focus on a specific task, hold and retain information, and make connections between novel information and previous experiences. Hillman and colleagues demonstrated that a single bout of moderate-intensity walking 60 percent of maximum heart rate resulted in significant improvements in performance on a task requiring attentional inhibition e.
These findings were accompanied by changes in neuroelectric measures underlying the allocation of attention see Figure and significant improvements on the reading subtest of the Wide Range Achievement Test. No such effects were observed following a similar duration of quiet rest.
These findings were later replicated and extended to demonstrate benefits for both mathematics and reading performance in healthy children and those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Pontifex et al. Further replications of these findings demonstrated that a single bout of moderate-intensity exercise using a treadmill improved performance on a task of attention and inhibition, but similar benefits were not derived from moderate-intensity exercise that involved exergaming O'Leary et al.
It was also found that such benefits were derived following cessation of, but not during, the bout of exercise Drollette et al. The applications of such empirical findings within the school setting remain unclear. A randomized controlled trial entitled Physical Activity Across the Curriculum PAAC used cluster randomization among 24 schools to examine the effects of physically active classroom lessons on BMI and academic achievement Donnelly et al.
The academically oriented physical activities were intended to be of vigorous or moderate intensity 3—6 metabolic equivalents [METs] and to last approximately 10 minutes and were specifically designed to supplement content in mathematics, language arts, geography, history, spelling, science, and health.
The study followed boys and girls for 3 years as they rose from 2nd or 3rd to 4th or 5th grades. Changes in academic achievement, fitness, and blood screening were considered secondary outcomes. During a 3-year period, students who engaged in physically active lessons, on average, improved their academic achievement by 6 percent, while the control groups exhibited a 1 percent decrease.
FIGURE Change in academic scores from baseline after physically active classroom lessons in elementary schools in northeast Kansas — It is important to note that cognitive tasks completed before, during, and after physical activity show varying effects, but the effects were always positive compared with sedentary behavior.
In a study carried out by Drollette and colleagues36 preadolescent children completed two cognitive tasks—a flanker task to assess attention and inhibition and a spatial nback task to assess working memory—before, during, and after seated rest and treadmill walking conditions. The children sat or walked on different days for an average of 19 minutes. The results suggest that the physical activity enhanced cognitive performance for the attention task but not for the task requiring working memory.
Accordingly, although more research is needed, the authors suggest that the acute effects of exercise may be selective to certain cognitive processes i. Indeed, data collected using a task-switching paradigm i. Thus, findings to date indicate a robust relationship of acute exercise to transient improvements in attention but appear inconsistent for other aspects of cognition. Academic Learning Time and On- and Off-Task Behaviors Excessive time on task, inattention to task, off-task behavior, and delinquency are important considerations in the learning environment given the importance of academic learning time to academic performance.
These behaviors are observable and of concern to teachers as they detract from the learning environment. Systematic observation by trained observers may yield important insight regarding the effects of short physical activity breaks on these behaviors. Indeed, systematic observations of student behavior have been used as an alternative means of measuring academic performance Mahar et al. After the development of classroom-based physical activities, called Energizers, teachers were trained in how to implement such activities in their lessons at least twice per week Mahar et al.
Measurements of baseline physical activity and on-task behaviors were collected in two 3rd-grade and two 4th-grade classes, using pedometers and direct observation. The intervention included students, while served as controls by not engaging in the activities.
A subgroup of 62 3rd and 4th graders was observed for on-task behavior in the classroom following the physical activity. Children who participated in Energizers took more steps during the school day than those who did not; they also increased their on-task behaviors by more than 20 percent over baseline measures.
A systematic review of a similar in-class, academically oriented, physical activity plan—Take 10! The findings suggest that children who experienced Take 10! Further, children in the Take 10! Some have expressed concern that introducing physical activity into the classroom setting may be distracting to students. Yet in one study it was sedentary students who demonstrated a decrease in time on task, while active students returned to the same level of on-task behavior after an active learning task Grieco et al.
Among the 97 3rd-grade students in this study, a small but nonsignificant increase in on-task behaviors was seen immediately following these active lessons. Additionally, these improvements were not mediated by BMI. In sum, although presently understudied, physically active lessons may increase time on task and attention to task in the classroom setting.
Given the complexity of the typical classroom, the strategy of including content-specific lessons that incorporate physical activity may be justified. Recess It is recommended that every child have 20 minutes of recess each day and that this time be outdoors whenever possible, in a safe activity NASPE, Consistent engagement in recess can help students refine social skills, learn social mediation skills surrounding fair play, obtain additional minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity that contribute toward the recommend 60 minutes or more per day, and have an opportunity to express their imagination through free play Pellegrini and Bohn, ; see also Chapter 6.
When children participate in recess before lunch, additional benefits accrue, such as less food waste, increased incidence of appropriate behavior in the cafeteria during lunch, and greater student readiness to learn upon returning to the classroom after lunch Getlinger et al. To examine the effects of engagement in physical activity during recess on classroom behavior, Barros and colleagues examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study on 10, 8- to 9-year-old children.
Results indicate that children who had at least 15 minutes of recess were more likely to exhibit appropriate behavior in the classroom Barros et al. In another study, 43 4th-grade students were randomly assigned to 1 or no days of recess to examine the effects on classroom behavior Jarrett et al. The researchers concluded that on-task behavior was better among the children who had recess. In a series of studies examining kindergartners' attention to task following a minute recess, increased time on task was observed during learning centers and story reading Pellegrini et al.
Despite these positive findings centered on improved attention, it is important to note that few of these studies actually measured the intensity of the physical activity during recess. From a slightly different perspective, survey data from Virginia elementary school principals suggest that time dedicated to student participation in physical education, art, and music did not negatively influence academic performance Wilkins et al.
Thus, the strategy of reducing time spent in physical education to increase academic performance may not have the desired effect. The evidence on in-school physical activity supports the provision of physical activity breaks during the school day as a way to increase fluid intelligence, time on task, and attention.Physical Activity and Academic Performance
New technology has emerged that has allowed scientists to understand the impact of lifestyle factors on the brain from the body systems level down to the molecular level. A greater understanding of the cognitive components that subserve academic performance and may be amenable to intervention has thereby been gained. Research conducted in both laboratory and field settings has helped define this line of inquiry and identify some preliminary underlying mechanisms.
While statistically significant, this correlation indicated that only 3. The low level indicated that the relationship between academic performance and physical fitness is of little practical importance. Accordingly, physical education programs should not be advocated as a means to promote academic achievement in students. Prior academic achievement and socioeconomic The child should also get knowledge about hygiene and healthy lifestyle but still more significance is attached to Findings Related to Cognitive and Affective Assessment.
Experimental students began the program in Grade 1, with immediately preceding and succeeding classes serving as controls. Annual measurements showed a Aerobic fitness test; Anaerobic power tests; Rating methods; Procedure for performing the bench press and squat test for muscular strength. To examine the impact of integrating physical activity with elementary curricula on fluid intelligence and academic achievement.
A random sample of 3rd grade teachers integrated physical activity into their core curricula approximately 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week from