A growing research base suggests the benefits of physical activity (PA) and aerobic fitness for children extend beyond overall health/well-being to include academic achievement (AA). The majority of research studies on relations of PA and fitness with AA have utilized linear-only analytic approaches, thereby precluding the possibility that PA and fitness could have a differing impact on AA for those more/less active or fit.
Objective: Evaluate both linear and non-linear associations of PA and aerobic fitness with children's AA among a sample of 687 2nd and 3rd grade students from 17 Midwest schools.
Study Design: Using baseline data (fall 2011) from a larger 3-year intervention trial, multi-level regression analyses examined the linear and non-linear associations of AA with PA and with PACER laps (i.e., aerobic fitness), controlling for relevant covariates.
Results: Fitness, but not PA, had a significant quadratic association with both spelling and math achievement. Results indicate that 22-28 laps on the PACER was the point at which the associated increase in achievement per lap plateaued for spelling and math.
Conclusions: Increasing fitness could potentially have the greatest impact on children's AA for those below the 50th fitness percentile on the PACER.
(C) 2014 American College of Sports Medicine