Physically Fit Kids May Do Better in School

by Joy Keller on Feb 01, 2005

If you’re offering your services to local schools, here’s a new argument to add to the PowerPoint presentation. University of Illinois researchers have found “a strong relationship between academic achievement and fitness scores.”

The investigators examined the relationship between physical fitness and cognitive function (attention and working memory) among groups of fit and sedentary children and fit and sedentary adults. Among other things, the researchers used a “visual oddball” task to observe and record subjects’ abilities to recognize, respond to and discriminate between different visual stimuli. In that task, subjects were presented with two stimuli: a cartoon drawing of a dog and another one of a cat. Both appeared with different probabilities, and one was presented more frequently than the other.

When the researchers measured brain activation, they “found that fit children allocated more resources towards identifying stimuli, and also processed stimuli faster,” said University of Illinois kinesiology professor Charles Hillman in a press release. “Behaviorally, these effects showed up in that these fit children made fewer errors than sedentary ones. In terms of response speed, the fit children were still slower than fit and sedentary adults, but were faster than sedentary children.”

For more facts and figures regarding the effect of physical activity on academics, tune into the special section on kids’ fitness in our March issue.

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About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master. Joy joined IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2002, and brought with her a wealth of information about how to fine-tune communication channels, after having spent her formative career years specializing in business-to-business journalism. Before she even graduated with honors from the respected University of Georgia journalism school, Joy was offered a job at one of the most successful trade publishing companies in the southeast, Shore Varrone, Inc. She made her mark in the automotive aftermarket industry as a creative thinker and journalist with an intuitive knack for researching and understanding niche audiences. Joy has worked on several titles, including Auto Trim & Restyling News, Truck Accessory News, Digital Output Magazine, Retail & Construction News, Miata magazine, Ford Racing, and many more. Her passion, however, lies with health and fitness. She was the associate editor of ACE Certified News while working at the American Council on Exercise, and transitioned that publication from a newsletter to a magazine. She has enjoyed 16 years at IDEA, where she has launched several publications, including the award-winning Inner IDEA Body-Mind Spirit Review, IDEA Pilates Today and IDEA Fit Business Success. Joy is a content creator and media 2.0 advocate who takes pride in discovering the unique information needs of qualified audiences, and she is dedicated to serving those needs while following the highest available standards.