For better grades and higher test scores, kids might think about hitting the gym along with the books. A new study from Michigan State University, and published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, has found that physically fit children do better in the classroom. It's the first research to show a link between children’s fitness and academic performance.
Researchers led by kinesiologist Dawn Coe, PhD, now at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, examined 312 middle school students (grades 6-8). They tested the kids’ physical fitness with a program consisting of push-ups, shuttle runs and other exercise and, as described in a release:
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, said co-author James Pivarnik, who advised Coe on the project.