Adolescents with greater levels of exercise performed better in school during shift from main school to lower secondary school than their physically non-active peers, a new study from Finland shows. Nevertheless, the researchers, from the University of Jyväskylä, discovered that increased exercise did not always lead to enhanced academic performance.
Previous cross-sectional studies have reported that physically more active children and adolescents achieve much better school grades than their less active peers do, but there are couple of longitudinal research studies on the topic. A recently published research study showed that teenagers with greater levels of physical activity over a follow-up period of two scholastic years had greater academic performance than did those who were constantly inactive. Furthermore, the research study revealed that increased levels of physical activity do not instantly lead to improved scholastic performance. Instead, the results recommend that those adolescents who increased their physical activity had lower scholastic efficiency during the follow-up compared to their more active peers.
What the results suggest
Extremely active teenagers carried out much better in school compared to their less active peers. Nevertheless, our results showed that increasing physical activity over a duration of 2 scholastic years did not always improve academic performance.
What the results do not imply
Based on our results, it is not possible to state whether physical activity enhances scholastic efficiency or if teenagers with higher scholastic performance select a physically active lifestyle. For that reason, no causal analyses can be made. However, the outcomes of today study do not refute the findings of previous studies showing little but positive results of physical activity on learning and its neural underpinnings.
‘The link in between exercise and academic efficiency do not constantly show a causal relationship. It is possible that high levels of physical activity and good scholastic efficiency share the very same qualities, such as high inspiration towards the job at hand,’ states Eero Haapala, postdoctoral scientist from the University of Jyväskylä.
The research study investigated the longitudinal associations of physical activity with academic performance in 635 teenagers who were between 11 and 13 years of ages at standard. Physical activity was assessed utilizing a survey and school grades were obtained from the school registers. A number of confounding aspects such as parental education and pubertal status were managed for in the analyses.