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Exercise and Academic Improvement

Studies have shown that students who are physically active tend to test better academically. Recently, researchers from the University of Madrid tested for possible associations between certain types of physical fitness—motor ability, cardiorespiratory capacity and strength—and scholastic performance.

The study, printed in The Journal of Pediatrics (doi:10.1016/ jjpeds.2014.04.044), featured 2,038 students aged 6–18. Each student completed a 20-meter shuttle run test to measure cardiorespiratory fitness and a 4 × 10-meter shuttle run test to determine motor ability. The researchers tested muscular strength based on handgrip strength and standing long-jump distance. Body fat was also measured. Results were then compared with academic scores.

The findings: Both cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability (independent and combined) were related to academic performance. The researchers did not find a link between strength and academic performance, however. “From a public health perspective, promoting physical activity that involves aerobic exercise and motor tasks during the school years to enhance cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability may be important not only for health but also for successful academic development and thus for potential occupational success later in life,” the study authors concluded.

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