Increased importance on academic achievement has resulted in many school districts focusing on improved academic performance leading to reductions in physical education time. The purpose was to examine the effects of 45 minutes of daily physical education on the cognitive ability, fitness performance and body composition of African American elementary and middle school youth.
Participants completing the informed consent in grades 2nd to 8th were included in the study. A pre/posttest design was used with repeated measures analysis of variance. Experimental and control school participants were pretested on the cognitive measures (ie, Fluid Intelligence and Perceptual Speed) and FitnessgramR physical fitness test items (eg, aerobic capacity, muscular strength and muscular endurance, body composition) in September 2009 and posttested in May 2010.
Experimental elementary and middle school participants observed significantly greater improvements compared with control elementary and middle school participants on 7 of 16 fitness and body composition measures and on 8 of 26 cognitive measures. These fitness, body composition, and cognitive improvement differences were more noticeable among elementary and middle school females.
Providing 45 minutes of daily physical education can perhaps increase cognitive ability while increasing fitness and decreasing the prevalence of overweight and obese youth.
Reed, Long, and Hughey are with the Dept of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Maslow is with the Dickson Advanced Analytics Group, Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC.