DENVER – Preteens in Portugal with higher levels of fitness and sports participation performed better in the classroom, according to research being presented today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 58th Annual Meeting and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine®. The association was stronger for students who played more sports or who participated over a longer period of time, particularly girls.
“This study documents a correlation between sports participation, fitness levels and academics,” said Maria Joao Almeida, Ph.D., lead author of this study. “This does not claim to show causation, but it does point up a connection that deserves further study.” The research involved 345 5th graders and 388 7th graders attending urban public schools in Madeira Island, Portugal. Both female and male students participated; all participated in compulsory physical education classes.
Students were measured for physical fitness, aerobic capacity and percent body fat. They answered questionnaires about their participation in school sports or youth sports leagues and clubs over the past three years. Academic achievement was measured by averaging the final year grades in compulsory classes. Researchers found that boys reported significantly higher levels of sports participation, and for a longer period, than girls.
Almeida said that heightened interest in many countries on academic competitiveness, together with pressures to streamline curricula, suggested the need for further research into the link between physical activity and academic achievement.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine. Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.