Physical, academic fitness linked

Physically fit students tend to score higher on standardised tests than their less fit peers, hint findings from a new study.

Test scores dropped more than one point for each extra minute it took middle and high school students to complete a 1-mile run/walk fitness test, Dr William J. McCarthy and colleagues at the University of California in Los Angeles found.

Schools and parents seeking to optimise their students' academic performance should take heed, McCarthy noted in an email to Reuters Health. For optimal brain function, "it's good to be both aerobically fit and to have a healthy body shape," he wrote.

They say further studies are needed to figure out why aerobic fitness may play a role in academic performance.

If future studies confirm a cause-and-effect link between lower fitness and reduced academic performance, "schools will have to reverse their recent disinvestment in physical education ostensibly for the purposes of boosting student achievement," they conclude. - (Joene Hendry/Reuters Health, February 2010)

SOURCE: The Journal of Pediatrics, published online January 25, 2010

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