Achievement in Mathematics and Language is Linked to Regular Physical Activity

A Population Study in Chilean Youth

BACKGROUND:  We examined the association between the allocation of time to regular physical activity (PA) and achievement in mathematics and language in Chilean adolescents after controlling for confounders.

  • METHODS: In a random sample of 620 ninth graders (15.6 ± 0.7 years old), we measured regular PA, including physical education and sports extracurricular activities, and academic performance, using national standardised tests. Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses modelled the relation between academic and health-related behaviours. Sufficiency and proficiency in mathematics and language were used as outcome variables.
  • RESULTS:  Only 18% of adolescents had >4 h·week-1 of regular PA. Devoting >4 h · week-1 to regular PA significantly increased the odds of sufficiency and proficiency in both domains. After full adjustment, the odds of sufficiency and proficiency in mathematics increased by 1.9 (95% CI: 1.1-3.5) and 2.7 (95% CI: 1.7-4.3), respectively. Similarly, the odds of sufficiency and proficiency in language increased by 3.3 (95% CI: 1.7-9.7) and 2.6 (95% CI: 1.6-4.1), respectively.
  • CONCLUSIONS:  Adolescents with the highest allocation of time to regular PA performed much better in mathematics and language than inactive students. The academic benefits associated with PA can help to promote sustained behaviour changes regarding lifestyles. They can be more easily perceived as gains than health benefits alone.

Correa-Burrows P1, Burrows R, Orellana Y, Ivanovic D. (2014). Achievement in mathematics and language is linked to regular physical activity: a population study in Chilean youth. J Sports Sci., April(22), 1-8. 

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