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Physical Activity Linked to Academic Performance in Boys

Update Date: Sep 11, 2014 11:53 AM EDT
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Being active has been tied to improving both physical and mental health. In a new study conducted in Finland, researchers examined how physical activity levels affected academic performance in young boys. The team reported that boys who were more physically active tended to have better academic achievements.

"There are no prospective studies that would have compared the relationships of different types of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) with academic skills among children. We therefore investigated the associations of different types of PA and SB with reading and arithmetic skills in a follow-up study among children," the authors wrote.

For this study, which was done as a collaboration of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study at the University of Eastern Finland and the First Steps Study at the University of Jyväskylä, the team examined 186 children in the first grade. The researchers recorded the children's physical activity levels, sedentary behaviors, reading skills and arithmetic knowledge.

The researchers discovered that the link between physical activity and academic achievement was the strongest in young boys. Boys who reported higher levels of physical activity during recess had better reading skills than less active boys. Boys who participated in organized sports had higher scores on their arithmetic tests. Furthermore, boys who walked and cycled more had better reading skills than boys who did not.

The team also found that boys who spent more time reading, writing and playing video or computer games had better reading and math skills in comparison to boys who did not partake in these activities as often. In girls, the researchers reported finding very little associations between physical activity and academic achievement.

The researcher concluded that keeping young children active could be beneficial for their mental health as well as their physical health.

The study, "Associations of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior with Academic Skills - A Follow-Up Study among Primary School Children," was published in PLOS ONE.

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