Friday is Fit Day

Posted 09/07/2012 | By HealthCorps

What variables can help a child achieve good grades in school? According to recent findings presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention, cardiorespiratory fitness was a significant factor found to have a positive influence on both boys’ and girls’ reading and math test scores.

Researchers gathered data from 1,211 students at five middle schools in Texas. Statistically, 54% of the students were female, and of those, 58.6% were white. Among the male students, 57% were white, 24.2 % were Mexican-American. Unlike prior studies which have shown a link between being physically fit and improved academic performance, this new study also looked at self esteem outcomes and social support, and it also took into consideration the socio-economic status of the students.

The study results noted that having social support was related to better reading outcomes among boys. An interesting finding among the girls was that having a larger body mass index correlated to better reading scores (maybe these girls shun sports because they are heavier and consequently spend more time reading). For both boys and girls, a better cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with better math scores.

The takeaway message is that encouraging fitness and maintaining physical education and after-school sports programs would all seem to support better academic outcomes for girls and boys.

(Source: Physical Fitness and Academic Performance: A Longitudinal Investigation, Sudhish Srikanth, lead author, Trent A. Petrie, PhD, Christy Greenleaf, PhD, and Scott Martin, PhD, University of North Texas)

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