Most literature shows that a relationship does exist, mainly emphasizing maximal oxygen consumption and Key words: physical fitness, physical activity, academic performance, adolescents. . of meaning between the different variables. The objective of this study was to examine the association of scholastic performance with physical activity and fitness of children. To do so, school ratings of. to12 years (N=) by means of the Fitnessgram, the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Key words: Physical fitness; Academic achievement; Children; Obesity.
Since that meta-analysis, however, several papers have reported robust relationships between aerobic fitness and different aspects of memory in children e.
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Regardless, the comprehensive review of Sibley and Etnier was important because it helped bring attention to an emerging literature suggesting that physical activity may benefit cognitive development even as it also demonstrated the need for further study to better understand the multifaceted relationship between physical activity and cognitive and brain health. The regular engagement in physical activity achieved during physical education programming can also be related to academic performance, especially when the class is taught by a physical education teacher.
In an experimental design, seven elementary schools were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: No significant differences by condition were found for mathematics testing; however, reading scores were significantly higher in the specialist condition relative to the control condition Sallis et al.
The authors conclude that spending time in physical education with a specialist did not have a negative effect on academic performance. Shortcomings of this research include the amount of data loss from pre- to posttest, the use of results of 2nd-grade testing that exceeded the national average in performance as baseline data, and the use of norm-referenced rather than criterion-based testing. In seminal research conducted by Gabbard and Bartonsix different conditions of physical activity no activity; 20, 30, 40, and 50 minutes; and posttest no activity were completed by 2nd graders during physical education.
Each physical activity session was followed by 5 minutes of rest and the completion of 36 math problems. The authors found a potential threshold effect whereby only the minute condition improved mathematical performance, with no differences by gender.
A longitudinal study of the kindergarten class of —, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, investigated the association between enrollment in physical education and academic achievement Carlson et al. Higher amounts of physical education were correlated with better academic performance in mathematics among females, but this finding did not hold true for males. Ahamed and colleagues found in a cluster randomized trial that, after 16 months of a classroom-based physical activity intervention, there was no significant difference between the treatment and control groups in performance on the standardized Cognitive Abilities Test, Third Edition CAT Others have found, however, that coordinative exercise Budde et al.
Specifically, Coe and colleagues examined the association of enrollment in physical education and self-reported vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity outside school with performance in core academic courses and on the Terra Nova Standardized Achievement Test among more than 6th-grade students.
Their findings indicate that academic performance was unaffected by enrollment in physical education classes, which were found to average only 19 minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity. When time spent engaged in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity outside of school was considered, however, a significant positive relation to academic performance emerged, with more time engaged in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity being related to better grades but not test scores Coe et al.
Studies of participation in sports and academic achievement have found positive associations Mechanic and Hansell, ; Dexter, ; Crosnoe, ; Eitle and Eitle, ; Stephens and Schaben, ; Eitle, ; Miller et al.
Other studies, however, have found no association between participation in sports and academic performance Fisher et al. The findings of these studies need to be interpreted with caution as many of their designs failed to account for the level of participation by individuals in the sport e.
Further, it is unclear whether policies required students to have higher GPAs to be eligible for participation. Offering sports opportunities is well justified regardless of the cognitive benefits, however, given that adolescents may be less likely to engage in risky behaviors when involved in sports or other extracurricular activities Page et al.
Although a consensus on the relationship of physical activity to academic achievement has not been reached, the vast majority of available evidence suggests the relationship is either positive or neutral. The meta-analytic review by Fedewa and Ahn suggests that interventions entailing aerobic physical activity have the greatest impact on academic performance; however, all types of physical activity, except those involving flexibility alone, contribute to enhanced academic performance, as do interventions that use small groups about 10 students rather than individuals or large groups.
Regardless of the strength of the findings, the literature indicates that time spent engaged in physical activity is beneficial to children because it has not been found to detract from academic performance, and in fact can improve overall health and function Sallis et al. Single Bouts of Physical Activity Beyond formal physical education, evidence suggests that multi-component approaches are a viable means of providing physical activity opportunities for children across the school curriculum see also Chapter 6.
Although health-related fitness lessons taught by certified physical education teachers result in greater student fitness gains relative to such lessons taught by other teachers Sallis et al. Single sessions or bouts of physical activity have independent merit, offering immediate benefits that can enhance the learning experience.
Studies have found that single bouts of physical activity result in improved attention Hillman et al. Yet single bouts of physical activity have differential effects, as very vigorous exercise has been associated with cognitive fatigue and even cognitive decline in adults Tomporowski, As seen in Figurehigh levels of effort, arousal, or activation can influence perception, decision making, response preparation, and actual response. For discussion of the underlying constructs and differential effects of single bouts of physical activity on cognitive performance, see Tomporowski Diagram of a simplified version of Sanders's cognitive-energetic model of human information processing adapted from Jones and Hardy, For children, classrooms are busy places where they must distinguish relevant information from distractions that emerge from many different sources occurring simultaneously.
A student must listen to the teacher, adhere to classroom procedures, focus on a specific task, hold and retain information, and make connections between novel information and previous experiences.
Hillman and colleagues demonstrated that a single bout of moderate-intensity walking 60 percent of maximum heart rate resulted in significant improvements in performance on a task requiring attentional inhibition e. These findings were accompanied by changes in neuroelectric measures underlying the allocation of attention see Figure and significant improvements on the reading subtest of the Wide Range Achievement Test.
No such effects were observed following a similar duration of quiet rest. These findings were later replicated and extended to demonstrate benefits for both mathematics and reading performance in healthy children and those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Pontifex et al.
Further replications of these findings demonstrated that a single bout of moderate-intensity exercise using a treadmill improved performance on a task of attention and inhibition, but similar benefits were not derived from moderate-intensity exercise that involved exergaming O'Leary et al. It was also found that such benefits were derived following cessation of, but not during, the bout of exercise Drollette et al. The applications of such empirical findings within the school setting remain unclear.
A randomized controlled trial entitled Physical Activity Across the Curriculum PAAC used cluster randomization among 24 schools to examine the effects of physically active classroom lessons on BMI and academic achievement Donnelly et al. The academically oriented physical activities were intended to be of vigorous or moderate intensity 3—6 metabolic equivalents [METs] and to last approximately 10 minutes and were specifically designed to supplement content in mathematics, language arts, geography, history, spelling, science, and health.
The study followed boys and girls for 3 years as they rose from 2nd or 3rd to 4th or 5th grades. Changes in academic achievement, fitness, and blood screening were considered secondary outcomes.
During a 3-year period, students who engaged in physically active lessons, on average, improved their academic achievement by 6 percent, while the control groups exhibited a 1 percent decrease.
FIGURE Change in academic scores from baseline after physically active classroom lessons in elementary schools in northeast Kansas — It is important to note that cognitive tasks completed before, during, and after physical activity show varying effects, but the effects were always positive compared with sedentary behavior. In a study carried out by Drollette and colleagues36 preadolescent children completed two cognitive tasks—a flanker task to assess attention and inhibition and a spatial nback task to assess working memory—before, during, and after seated rest and treadmill walking conditions.
The children sat or walked on different days for an average of 19 minutes. The results suggest that the physical activity enhanced cognitive performance for the attention task but not for the task requiring working memory. Accordingly, although more research is needed, the authors suggest that the acute effects of exercise may be selective to certain cognitive processes i. Indeed, data collected using a task-switching paradigm i. Thus, findings to date indicate a robust relationship of acute exercise to transient improvements in attention but appear inconsistent for other aspects of cognition.
Academic Learning Time and On- and Off-Task Behaviors Excessive time on task, inattention to task, off-task behavior, and delinquency are important considerations in the learning environment given the importance of academic learning time to academic performance.
These behaviors are observable and of concern to teachers as they detract from the learning environment. Systematic observation by trained observers may yield important insight regarding the effects of short physical activity breaks on these behaviors. Indeed, systematic observations of student behavior have been used as an alternative means of measuring academic performance Mahar et al.
After the development of classroom-based physical activities, called Energizers, teachers were trained in how to implement such activities in their lessons at least twice per week Mahar et al.
Measurements of baseline physical activity and on-task behaviors were collected in two 3rd-grade and two 4th-grade classes, using pedometers and direct observation. The intervention included students, while served as controls by not engaging in the activities. A subgroup of 62 3rd and 4th graders was observed for on-task behavior in the classroom following the physical activity. Children who participated in Energizers took more steps during the school day than those who did not; they also increased their on-task behaviors by more than 20 percent over baseline measures.
A systematic review of a similar in-class, academically oriented, physical activity plan—Take 10! The findings suggest that children who experienced Take 10! Further, children in the Take 10!
Some have expressed concern that introducing physical activity into the classroom setting may be distracting to students. Yet in one study it was sedentary students who demonstrated a decrease in time on task, while active students returned to the same level of on-task behavior after an active learning task Grieco et al.
Among the 97 3rd-grade students in this study, a small but nonsignificant increase in on-task behaviors was seen immediately following these active lessons. Additionally, these improvements were not mediated by BMI. In sum, although presently understudied, physically active lessons may increase time on task and attention to task in the classroom setting. Given the complexity of the typical classroom, the strategy of including content-specific lessons that incorporate physical activity may be justified.
Recess It is recommended that every child have 20 minutes of recess each day and that this time be outdoors whenever possible, in a safe activity NASPE, Consistent engagement in recess can help students refine social skills, learn social mediation skills surrounding fair play, obtain additional minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity that contribute toward the recommend 60 minutes or more per day, and have an opportunity to express their imagination through free play Pellegrini and Bohn, ; see also Chapter 6.
When children participate in recess before lunch, additional benefits accrue, such as less food waste, increased incidence of appropriate behavior in the cafeteria during lunch, and greater student readiness to learn upon returning to the classroom after lunch Getlinger et al.
To examine the effects of engagement in physical activity during recess on classroom behavior, Barros and colleagues examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study on 10, 8- to 9-year-old children. Results indicate that children who had at least 15 minutes of recess were more likely to exhibit appropriate behavior in the classroom Barros et al. In another study, 43 4th-grade students were randomly assigned to 1 or no days of recess to examine the effects on classroom behavior Jarrett et al.
The researchers concluded that on-task behavior was better among the children who had recess. In a series of studies examining kindergartners' attention to task following a minute recess, increased time on task was observed during learning centers and story reading Pellegrini et al. Despite these positive findings centered on improved attention, it is important to note that few of these studies actually measured the intensity of the physical activity during recess.
From a slightly different perspective, survey data from Virginia elementary school principals suggest that time dedicated to student participation in physical education, art, and music did not negatively influence academic performance Wilkins et al. Thus, the strategy of reducing time spent in physical education to increase academic performance may not have the desired effect.
The evidence on in-school physical activity supports the provision of physical activity breaks during the school day as a way to increase fluid intelligence, time on task, and attention.
New technology has emerged that has allowed scientists to understand the impact of lifestyle factors on the brain from the body systems level down to the molecular level. A greater understanding of the cognitive components that subserve academic performance and may be amenable to intervention has thereby been gained. Research conducted in both laboratory and field settings has helped define this line of inquiry and identify some preliminary underlying mechanisms.
The Evidence Base on the Relationship of Physical Activity to Brain Health and Cognition in Older Adults Despite the current focus on the relationship of physical activity to cognitive development, the evidence base is larger on the association of physical activity with brain health and cognition during aging.
Much can be learned about how physical activity affects childhood cognition and scholastic achievement through this work.
Despite earlier investigations into the relationship of physical activity to cognitive aging see Etnier et al. Specifically, older adults aged 60 and 75 were randomly assigned to a 6-month intervention of either walking i. The walking group but not the flexibility group showed improved cognitive performance, measured as a shorter response time to the presented stimulus.
Results from a series of tasks that tapped different aspects of cognitive control indicated that engagement in physical activity is a beneficial means of combating cognitive aging Kramer et al. Cognitive control, or executive control, is involved in the selection, scheduling, and coordination of computational processes underlying perception, memory, and goal-directed action. These processes allow for the optimization of behavioral interactions within the environment through flexible modulation of the ability to control attention MacDonald et al.
Core cognitive processes that make up cognitive control or executive control include inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility Diamond,processes mediated by networks that involve the prefrontal cortex.
Inhibition or inhibitory control refers to the ability to override a strong internal or external pull so as to act appropriately within the demands imposed by the environment Davidson et al. For example, one exerts inhibitory control when one stops speaking when the teacher begins lecturing. Working memory refers to the ability to represent information mentally, manipulate stored information, and act on the information Davidson et al.
In solving a difficult mathematical problem, for example, one must often remember the remainder. Finally, cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to switch perspectives, focus attention, and adapt behavior quickly and flexibly for the purposes of goal-directed action Blair et al.
For example, one must shift attention from the teacher who is teaching a lesson to one's notes to write down information for later study. Based on their earlier findings on changes in cognitive control induced by aerobic training, Colcombe and Kramer conducted a meta-analysis to examine the relationship between aerobic training and cognition in older adults aged using data from 18 randomized controlled exercise interventions.
Their findings suggest that aerobic training is associated with general cognitive benefits that are selectively and disproportionately greater for tasks or task components requiring greater amounts of cognitive control. A second and more recent meta-analysis Smith et al. In older adults, then, aerobic training selectively improves cognition. Hillman and colleagues examined the relationship between physical activity and inhibition one aspect of cognitive control using a computer-based stimulus-response protocol in individuals aged Their results indicate that greater amounts of physical activity are related to decreased response speed across task conditions requiring variable amounts of inhibition, suggesting a generalized relationship between physical activity and response speed.
In addition, the authors found physical activity to be related to better accuracy across conditions in older adults, while no such relationship was observed for younger adults. Of interest, this relationship was disproportionately larger for the condition requiring greater amounts of inhibition in the older adults, suggesting that physical activity has both a general and selective association with task performance Hillman et al.
With advances in neuroimaging techniques, understanding of the effects of physical activity and aerobic fitness on brain structure and function has advanced rapidly over the past decade. In particular, a series of studies Colcombe et al. Normal aging results in the loss of brain tissue Colcombe et al. Thus cognitive functions subserved by these brain regions such as those involved in cognitive control and aspects of memory are expected to decay more dramatically than other aspects of cognition.
Colcombe and colleagues investigated the relationship of aerobic fitness to gray and white matter tissue loss using magnetic resonance imaging MRI in 55 healthy older adults aged They observed robust age-related decreases in tissue density in the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions using voxel-based morphometry, a technique used to assess brain volume.
Reductions in the amount of tissue loss in these regions were observed as a function of fitness. Given that the brain structures most affected by aging also demonstrated the greatest fitness-related sparing, these initial findings provide a biological basis for fitness-related benefits to brain health during aging.
In a second study, Colcombe and colleagues examined the effects of aerobic fitness training on brain structure using a randomized controlled design with 59 sedentary healthy adults aged The treatment group received a 6-month aerobic exercise i. Results indicated that gray and white matter brain volume increased for those who received the aerobic fitness training intervention. No such results were observed for those assigned to the stretching and toning group. Specifically, those assigned to the aerobic training intervention demonstrated increased gray matter in the frontal lobes, including the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, the supplementary motor area, the middle frontal gyrus, the dorsolateral region of the right inferior frontal gyrus, and the left superior temporal lobe.
White matter volume changes also were evidenced following the aerobic fitness intervention, with increases in white matter tracts being observed within the anterior third of the corpus callosum.
These brain regions are important for cognition, as they have been implicated in the cognitive control of attention and memory processes.
These findings suggest that aerobic training not only spares age-related loss of brain structures but also may in fact enhance the structural health of specific brain regions.
In addition to the structural changes noted above, research has investigated the relationship between aerobic fitness and changes in brain function. That is, aerobic fitness training has also been observed to induce changes in patterns of functional activation.
Functional MRI fMRI measures, which make it possible to image activity in the brain while an individual is performing a cognitive task, have revealed that aerobic training induces changes in patterns of functional activation.
This approach involves inferring changes in neuronal activity from alteration in blood flow or metabolic activity in the brain.
- The relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement among adolescent in South Korea
In a seminal paper, Colcombe and colleagues examined the relationship of aerobic fitness to brain function and cognition across two studies with older adults. In the second study, 29 participants aged were recruited and randomly assigned to either a fitness training i. In both studies, participants were given a task requiring variable amounts of attention and inhibition.
Results indicated that fitness study 1 and fitness training study 2 were related to greater activation in the middle frontal gyrus and superior parietal cortex; these regions of the brain are involved in attentional control and inhibitory functioning, processes entailed in the regulation of attention and action.
These changes in neural activation were related to significant improvements in performance on the cognitive control task of attention and inhibition. Taken together, the findings across studies suggest that an increase in aerobic fitness, derived from physical activity, is related to improvements in the integrity of brain structure and function and may underlie improvements in cognition across tasks requiring cognitive control.
Although developmental differences exist, the general paradigm of this research can be applied to early stages of the life span, and some early attempts to do so have been made, as described below.
Given the focus of this chapter on childhood cognition, it should be noted that this section has provided only a brief and arguably narrow look at the research on physical activity and cognitive aging. Considerable work has detailed the relationship of physical activity to other aspects of adult cognition using behavioral and neuroimaging tools e. The interested reader is referred to a number of review papers and meta-analyses describing the relationship of physical activity to various aspects of cognitive and brain health Etnier et al.
Child Development, Brain Structure, and Function Certain aspects of development have been linked with experience, indicating an intricate interplay between genetic programming and environmental influences. During typical development, experience shapes the pruning process through the strengthening of neural networks that support relevant thoughts and actions and the elimination of unnecessary or redundant connections. Examples of neural plasticity in response to unique environmental interaction have been demonstrated in human neuroimaging studies of participation in music Elbert et al.
Effects of Regular Engagement in Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Brain Structure Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques have rapidly advanced understanding of the role physical activity and aerobic fitness may have in brain structure.
In children a growing body of correlational research suggests differential brain structure related to aerobic fitness. Chaddock and colleagues ab showed a relationship among aerobic fitness, brain volume, and aspects of cognition and memory. Specifically, Chaddock and colleagues a assigned 9- to year-old preadolescent children to lower- and higher-fitness groups as a function of their scores on a maximal oxygen uptake VO2max test, which is considered the gold-standard measure of aerobic fitness.
They observed larger bilateral hippocampal volume in higher-fit children using MRI, as well as better performance on a task of relational memory. It is important to note that relational memory has been shown to be mediated by the hippocampus Cohen and Eichenbaum, ; Cohen et al.
Further, no differences emerged for a task condition requiring item memory, which is supported by structures outside the hippocampus, suggesting selectivity among the aspects of memory that benefit from higher amounts of fitness. Lastly, hippocampal volume was positively related to performance on the relational memory task but not the item memory task, and bilateral hippocampal volume was observed to mediate the relationship between fitness and relational memory Chaddock et al.
Such findings are consistent with behavioral measures of relational memory in children Chaddock et al. In a second investigation Chaddock et al. The authors observed differential findings in the basal ganglia, a subcortical structure involved in the interplay of cognition and willed action. Specifically, higher-fit children exhibited greater volume in the dorsal striatum i.
Such findings are not surprising given the role of the dorsal striatum in cognitive control and response resolution Casey et al. Chaddock and colleagues b further observed that higher-fit children exhibited increased inhibitory control and response resolution and that higher basal ganglia volume was related to better task performance.
The relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement among adolescent in South Korea
These findings indicate that the dorsal striatum is involved in these aspects of higher-order cognition and that fitness may influence cognitive control during preadolescent development.
Effects of Regular Engagement in Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Brain Function Other research has attempted to characterize fitness-related differences in brain function using fMRI and event-related brain potentials ERPswhich are neuroelectric indices of functional brain activation in the electro-encephalographic time series.
To date, few randomized controlled interventions have been conducted. Notably, Davis and colleagues conducted one such intervention lasting approximately 14 weeks that randomized 20 sedentary overweight preadolescent children into an after-school physical activity intervention or a nonactivity control group.
They measured physical fitness level such as aerobic performance, flexibility, and muscular strength, and found that aerobic performance had a positive effect on reading achievement, mathematics, and total academic achievement. Subsequent studies are required based on the limitations of this study in order to further identify the effect of physical activity on intelligence and brain development. Thus, future studies need to include more diverse components of physical fitness by dividing it into two categories such as health-related physical fitness and skill-related physical fitness Second, this study used comprehensive physical fitness level for analysis, rather than using each component of physical fitness separately.
Therefore, future studies should analyze the effects of each component of physical fitness on academic achievement. In summary, this study specifically identified the relationship between physical fitness level and academic achievement. Results of this study can be used to develop more effective physical education curricula since raw exam scores were directly used for analysis. Moreover, results of this study can also be applied to recreation and sport programs regarding other populations e.
Conflict of interest None. Effects of acute exercise on mood and well-being in patients with major depressive disorder. Med Sci Sports Exerc, Pleasure and displeasure from the body: Cogn Emotion, Self-efficacy and salivary cortisol responses to acute exercise in physically active and less active adults.
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