Thursday, July 22, 2010

Does Keeping Kids Physically Fit Improve Their Grades?

In general, I think kids who are more fit will have better attention spans and better self esteem.

However, too many kids love to show off their gray-matter muscle more than doing push-ups.

I personally would like to see a few more studies on the subject.  Here is an eye-opening news story, courtesy Ivanhoe

Kids + Fitness = Better Grades
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New evidence underlines the idea that physical fitness is associated with academic achievement in young people.
"As children's health continues to be a concern -- especially when it comes to obesity -- some have suggested that children's physical fitness is associated with their academic performance," study presenting author Lesley A. Cottrell, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va., was quoted as saying. "The research, however, had not developed enough to define the nature of that relationship."
Dr. Cottrell and colleagues analyzed the body mass index percentiles, fitness levels and standardized academic test scores of 725 fifth grade students in Wood County, W.Va. The researchers focused more on the children's fitness level than on their weight. They compared that data to fitness and academic performance two years later when the students were in the seventh grade.
They separated the participants into four groups of students who were:
• in high physical fitness levels in fifth grade and remained so in seventh grade;
• fit in fifth grade but had lost their fitness by seventh grade;
• not fit in fifth grade but were physically fit by seventh grade;

• not physically fit at the beginning of the study, in fifth grade, nor at the end of the study, in seventh grade.
Children who had the highest standardized test scores in reading, math, science and social studies were fit at the start and end of the study. The next best group, academically, in all four subjects, was made up of children who were not fit in fifth grade but had become fit by seventh grade. The children who had lost their fitness levels between fifth and seventh grades were third in academic performance. Children who were not physically fit in either the fifth or seventh grades had the lowest academic performance.
"The take-home message from this study is that we want our kids to be fit as long as possible and it will show in their academic performance," said Dr. Cottrell. "But if we can intervene on those children who are not necessarily fit and get them to physically fit levels, we may also see their academic performance increase."
The study suggests that focusing more on physical fitness and physical education in school would result in healthier, happier and smarter children, Dr. Cottrell said.
SOURCE: Presented at the American Heart Association's Conference on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, March 4, 2010

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