A Physical Education Trial Improves Adolescents' Cognitive Performance and Academic Achievement: The Edufit Study

The intervention focused on increasing the time and intensity of Physical Education (PE), on adolescents' cognitive performance and academic achievement. A 4-month group-randomized controlled trial was conducted in 67 adolescents from South-East Spain, in 2007.

  • Three classes were randomly allocated into control group (CG), experimental group 1 (EG1) and experimental group 2 (EG2). CG received usual PE (two sessions/week), EG1 received four PE sessions/week and EG2 received four PE sessions/week of high intensity.
  • Cognitive performance (non-verbal and verbal ability, abstract reasoning, spatial ability, verbal reasoning and numerical ability) was assessed by the Spanish Overall and Factorial Intelligence Test, and academic achievement by school grades.
  • Results: All the cognitive performance variables, except verbal reasoning, increased more in EG2 than in CG (all P < 0.05). Average school grades (e.g., mathematics) increased more in EG2 than in CG. Overall, EG2 improved more than EG1, without differences between EG1 and CG.
  • Conclusions: Increased PE can benefit cognitive performance and academic achievement. This study contributes to the current knowledge by suggesting that the intensity of PE sessions might play a role in the positive effect of physical activity on cognition and academic success.
  • Future studies involving larger sample sizes should confirm or contrast these preliminary findings.

Ardoy, D. N., Fernandez-Rodriguez, J. M., Jimenez-Pavon, D., Castillo, R., Ruiz, J. R., & Ortega, F. B. (2013). A Physical Education trial improves adolescents' cognitive performance and academic achievement: the EDUFIT study. Scand J Med Sci Sports. doi: 10.1111/sms.12093

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