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Do fitter kids do better in school?

Published on October 21, 2016 at 14:42 / Updated on April 16, 2021 at 19:17

A sound mind in a sound body… The old Latin adage is still just as relevant today: a new study suggests that children’s physical fitness is associated with their academic performance. It seems the fitter the student, the better the test scores, on average.

The researchers evaluated nearly 1,200 children, assessing their physical fitness in the fifth grade and then again in the seventh grade (the equivalent of Secondary 1). Standardized tests were also used to evaluate the students academically in four subjects: reading, math, science and social studies.

The researchers had hypothesized that children who stayed in shape during the two-year study would have better test scores. They were right!

In the four academic areas evaluated, children who were fit in fifth grade and remained fit throughout the study had the highest scores in the standardized tests. For example, their average reading score was 3.31 out of 5. Reading “mastery” is considered to begin at a score of 3 or greater. In contrast, those who weren’t in good physical condition in fifth grade and who remained unfit had the worst reading scores (2.91 points out of 5). And those who were unfit in fifth grade but improved their fitness level by the seventh grade got an average reading score of 3.14 out of 5.

Earlier studies had also suggested a similar association between physical fitness and better academic test scores. The correlation may be due to the fact that physical activity has beneficial effects on mood and the ability to concentrate. Further incentive for making sure your children spend enough time playing outside every day!

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