Fit kids score higher on school tests, study finds


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Fitter kids do better on school tests, according to new research that echoes previous findings. The fitter the middle-school students were, the better they did on reading and math tests, says researcher Sudhish Srikanth of the University of North Texas, who recently presented his research at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting.

The researchers tested 1,211 students from five Texas middle schools. They looked at each student’s academic self-concept — how confident they were in their abilities to do well — and took into account the student's socioeconomic status. They also looked at students’ fitness at the start of the study, body composition and their social support systems.

The researchers’ findings included:

  • Cardio-respiratory fitness had the strongest effect on academic achievement.
  • Physical fitness correlated with improvements in memory, concentration, organization and staying on task.
  • For boys, having social support was also related to better reading scores.
  • For girls, a larger body-mass index (BMI) was the only factor other than fitness that predicted better reading scores. The researchers are unsure why.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

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