Melbourne: Schools that have fitter children compared to other institutions achieve better literacy and numeracy results, a new research suggests.
Physiologist Dr Dick Telford, of the Australian National University, and his colleagues followed 800 children between ages 8-12 in 29 schools to see if physical fitness and activity affected academic performance.
“A school that has, on average, high fitness levels will have, on average, higher literacy and numeracy levels,” ABC Science quoted Telford, as saying.
“It took scientists by surprise to a certain degree that there was a consistent relationship,” Telford said.
The study measured physical activity (using pedometers), physical fitness (using a multistage running test), and body fat percentage of each child, which was then compared to the childrens’ academic performance in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test.
The study found a link between academic performance and the fitness of the child, confirming findings from other studies.
The research found that the relationship between fitness and academic performance was particularly strong at the school level.
Telford said that while fitness could affect performance through physiological changes, the findings showed there was also a parallel effect of school culture on academic performance.
“Our results certainly show there’s a relationship between physical activity and fitness and the academic performance,” Telford said.
“But because it’s stronger at the school level, I’m saying a major reason for this is a cultural effect at the school,” he said.
The study has been published in the journal Pediatric Exercise Science.
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