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Moderate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance

Moderate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance

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  • Josie Booth

Improvements over long term. Particularly noticeable for girls' science results

Regular moderate to vigorous exercise improves teens' academic performance, and particularly seems to help girls do better in science, indicates research led by the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee.

The study, undertaken in collaboration with the Universities of Georgia and Bristol, shows a link between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents in the UK and has been published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The improvements were sustained over the long term, with the findings pointing to a dose-response effect the more intensive the exercise taken, the greater the impact on test results.

If confirmed by further research, this could have implications for public health and education policy, say the authors.

They base their findings on a representative sample of almost 5000 children who were all part of the 'Children of the 90s' study, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). This is tracking the long term health of around 14,000 children born in the UK between 1991 and 1992 in the South West of England.

The duration and intensity of the children's daily physical activity levels were measured for periods of between three and seven days, when they were aged 11, using a device called an accelerometer, worn on an elasticated belt.

The accelerometer showed that the average daily number of minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise the 11 year olds clocked up was 29 for boys and 18 for girls significantly less than the recommended 60 minutes.

The children's academic performance in English, maths, and science was then formally assessed at the ages of 11 (compulsory national test key stage 1), 13 (compulsory national test, key stage 2), and 15/16 (General Certificate of Secondary Education; GCSE; key stage 4).

Factors likely to influence academic attainment, such as birthweight, mother's age at delivery, oily fish intake and smoking during the pregnancy, whether the child had reached puberty, weight, and socioeconomic factors were fully adjusted for.

The analysis showed that at the age of 11, better academic performance across all three subjects was linked to the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity undertaken. Physical activity benefited girls' performance in science, in particular.

Academic performance at the age of 13 was similarly linked to how much moderate to vigorous exercise pupils had had at the age of 11.

By the age of 15/16 GCSE exam results also showed a link to exercise, with an increase in performance for every additional 17 minutes/day (boys) and 12 minutes/day (girls) spent doing more intensive exercise at the age of 11.

Once again, girls' science results seemed to benefit the most. 'This is an important finding, especially in light of the current UK and European Commission policy aimed at increasing the number of females in science subjects,' comment the authors.

They add that this could, of course, be a chance finding, but suggest that the results may also reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain.

Their findings prompt the authors to speculate on what might happen to academic performance if children increased the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity they did to the recommended 60 minutes.

'If moderate to vigorous physical activity does influence academic attainment this has implications for public health and education policy by providing schools and parents with a potentially important stake in meaningful and sustained increases in physical activity,' they conclude.

Authors of the study include Dr Josephine Booth, a Lecturer at the University of Dundee, and Professor John Reilly, a Researcher at Strathclyde's School of Psychological Sciences and Health.

This study was funded by a grant from the BUPA Foundation to the University of Strathclyde. ALSPAC receives core support from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.

References

TitleRegular exercise improves children's academic results finds survey
Media name / outletTV
Media typeTelevision
Date22/10/13
URLnews.stv.tv/tayside/244756-exercise-improves-school-results-finds-strathclyde-and-dundee-universities/
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletTV
Media typeTelevision
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Media name / outletRadio
Media typeRadio
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Media name / outletRadio
Media typeRadio
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Media name / outletRadio
Media typeRadio
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Media name / outletRadio
Media typeRadio
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletRadio
Media typeRadio
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens' academic performance
Media name / outletRadio
Media typeRadio
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleBBC HealthExercise 'boosts academic success'
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleFit children do better in tests
Media name / outletnewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.osadvertiser.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2013/10/22/fit-children-do-better-in-tests-80904-33971801/
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleKids Who Exercise More May Get Better Grades
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Date22/10/13
URLwww.philly.com/philly/health/topics/HealthDay681278_20131021_Kids_Who_Exercise_More_May_Get_Better_Grades.html#5F3pE1meSxwQtKH2.99
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleBetter results linked to more exercise
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleKeeping fit as you grow up helps academic success
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.scotsman.com/news/education/keeping-fit-as-you-grow-up-helps-academic-success-1-3149760
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleExercise 'boosts school performance among teenagers'
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Date22/10/13
URLwww.webmd.boots.com/children/news/20131022/exercise-boosts-school-performance
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleExercise can make teenagers brighter and improve their grades
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.express.co.uk/news/uk/438362/Exercise-can-make-teenagers-brighter-and-improve-their-grades
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleExercise helps with academic performance
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleHow exercise can boost girls' grades in science
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleActive children more likely to be academic
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
Title'Exercise could make kids smarter'
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleDaily exercise could help boost pupils' grades
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleIntensive Exercise Improves Academic Performance of Teenagers
Media name / outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Date22/10/13
URLtopnews.us/content/258005-intensive-exercise-improves-academic-performance-teenagers
PersonsJosie Booth
TitlePhysical activity enhances academic performance of teenagers
Media name / outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Date22/10/13
URLtopnews.net.nz/content/230278-physical-activity-enhances-academic-performance-teenagers
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleFit children do better in tests
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.daventryexpress.co.uk/news/fit-children-do-better-in-tests-1-5609506
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleFit children do better in tests
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.harboroughmail.co.uk/news/fit-children-do-better-in-tests-1-5609506
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleFit children do better in tests
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.buxtonadvertiser.co.uk/news/fit-children-do-better-in-tests-1-6170151
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleFit children do better in tests
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/fit-children-do-better-in-tests-29685416.html
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleResearch reveals that kids who exercise are more likely to be better at academic tests
Media name / outletNewspaper
Media typePrint
Date22/10/13
URLwww.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/health/research-reveals-kids-who-exercise-2478795
PersonsJosie Booth
TitleModerate to vigorous exercise boosts teens academic performance
Degree of recognitionInternational
Media name / outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Date22/10/13
URLwww.healthcanal.com/life-style-fitness/44130-moderate-to-vigorous-exercise-boosts-teens-academic-performance.html
PersonsJosie Booth

Description

Improvements over long term. Particularly noticeable for girls' science results

Regular moderate to vigorous exercise improves teens' academic performance, and particularly seems to help girls do better in science, indicates research led by the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee.

The study, undertaken in collaboration with the Universities of Georgia and Bristol, shows a link between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents in the UK and has been published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The improvements were sustained over the long term, with the findings pointing to a dose-response effect the more intensive the exercise taken, the greater the impact on test results.

If confirmed by further research, this could have implications for public health and education policy, say the authors.

They base their findings on a representative sample of almost 5000 children who were all part of the 'Children of the 90s' study, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). This is tracking the long term health of around 14,000 children born in the UK between 1991 and 1992 in the South West of England.

The duration and intensity of the children's daily physical activity levels were measured for periods of between three and seven days, when they were aged 11, using a device called an accelerometer, worn on an elasticated belt.

The accelerometer showed that the average daily number of minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise the 11 year olds clocked up was 29 for boys and 18 for girls significantly less than the recommended 60 minutes.

The children's academic performance in English, maths, and science was then formally assessed at the ages of 11 (compulsory national test key stage 1), 13 (compulsory national test, key stage 2), and 15/16 (General Certificate of Secondary Education; GCSE; key stage 4).

Factors likely to influence academic attainment, such as birthweight, mother's age at delivery, oily fish intake and smoking during the pregnancy, whether the child had reached puberty, weight, and socioeconomic factors were fully adjusted for.

The analysis showed that at the age of 11, better academic performance across all three subjects was linked to the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity undertaken. Physical activity benefited girls' performance in science, in particular.

Academic performance at the age of 13 was similarly linked to how much moderate to vigorous exercise pupils had had at the age of 11.

By the age of 15/16 GCSE exam results also showed a link to exercise, with an increase in performance for every additional 17 minutes/day (boys) and 12 minutes/day (girls) spent doing more intensive exercise at the age of 11.

Once again, girls' science results seemed to benefit the most. 'This is an important finding, especially in light of the current UK and European Commission policy aimed at increasing the number of females in science subjects,' comment the authors.

They add that this could, of course, be a chance finding, but suggest that the results may also reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain.

Their findings prompt the authors to speculate on what might happen to academic performance if children increased the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity they did to the recommended 60 minutes.

'If moderate to vigorous physical activity does influence academic attainment this has implications for public health and education policy by providing schools and parents with a potentially important stake in meaningful and sustained increases in physical activity,' they conclude.

Authors of the study include Dr Josephine Booth, a Lecturer at the University of Dundee, and Professor John Reilly, a Researcher at Strathclyde's School of Psychological Sciences and Health.

This study was funded by a grant from the BUPA Foundation to the University of Strathclyde. ALSPAC receives core support from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.

Period22 Oct 2013

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