The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance

This report is a literature review that examines the existing research on the relationship between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance. It spans 23 years of research and includes 50 studies.

  • Student physical activity may help improve academic performance including academic achievement (e.g., grades, standardized test scores); academic behavior (e.g., on-task behavior, attendance); and factors that can positively influence academic achievement (e.g. concentration, attention, improved classroom behavior).
  • The majority of the studies in this review report that physical activity was positively related to academic performance.
  • Adding time during the school day for physical activity does not appear to take away from academic performance.
  • Schools should continue to offer and/or increase opportunities for student physical activity.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Association between School-based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.

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