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Fittest kids bring home better test scores

MICHIGAN STATE (US) — Middle school students in the best physical shape outscore their classmates on standardized tests and take home better report cards, according to new research.

Published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, it’s the first study linking children’s fitness to both improved scores on objective tests and better grades, which rely on subjective decisions by teachers.

The study also is among the first to examine how academic performance relates to all aspects of physical fitness—including body fat, muscular strength, flexibility, and endurance—according to lead researcher Dawn Coe.

“We looked at the full range of what’s called health-related fitness,” says Coe, who conducted the research as a doctoral student in Michigan State University’s kinesiology department and is now an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Kids aren’t really fit if they’re doing well in just one of those categories.”

Coe and colleagues gathered their data from 312 students in sixth through eighth grades at a West Michigan school. They gauged the kids’ fitness with an established program of push-ups, shuttle runs, and other exercises.

Then they compared those scores to students’ letter grades throughout the school year in four core classes and their performance on a standardized test.

The results showed the fittest children got the highest test scores and the best grades, regardless of gender or whether they’d yet gone through puberty.

The findings suggest schools that cut physical education and recess to focus on core subjects may undermine students’ success on the standardized tests that affect school funding and prestige, says co-author James Pivarnik, who advised Coe on the project.

“Look, your fitter kids are the ones who will do better on tests, so that would argue against cutting physical activity from the school day,” says Pivarnik, professor of kinesiology. “That’s the exciting thing, is if we can get people to listen and have some impact on public policy.”

Making fitness a bigger part of children’s lives also sets them up for future success, Pivarnik adds.

“Fit kids are more likely to be fit adults,” he says. “And now we see that fitness is tied to academic achievement. So hopefully the fitness and the success will both continue together.”

Source: Michigan State University

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5 Comments

  1. michele

    mens sana in corpore sano

  2. Asabi Rich

    Asabi Adefunmilayo Fatosin Rich
    No doubt. When you feel well, you can concentrate on the matter at hand. Being physically fit helps insure that more of your days will be ones where you can perform optimally mentally; that you will carry yourself confidently and exude energy as well as demonstrate calmness and alertness .Couple that fit body with nutritious food and you have a person who can tackle obstacles by setting and achieving goals. It’s a no brained that the little bundles of energy we give birth to require age level appropriate daily exercise. Along with this, things like yoga, tai chi and meditation should be incorporated into the experience. We in the U.S. generally are lagging so far behind because we make illogical, short-sighted, low-bar decisions where our children are concerned. They really are, generally speaking, receiving an inferior educational experience.

  3. Bonnie - tights and leggings for women and girls

    It makes absolute sense…

    the fitter the child, the better the oxygen levels in the brain –

    additionally, in my (non-expert) opinion…

    sports tend to teach kids to focus and concentrate on the task at hand – intensely.

    so it also contributes to being able to focus when they need to study or pay attention in class

    But yes – more people need to take note.

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