Physical Activity and Sedentary Time Are Positively Associated With Academic Performance: A 3-Year Longitudinal Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: To analyze the longitudinal association between academic performance and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), vigorous physical activity (VPA), and sedentary (SED) in a 3-year longitudinal study. A secondary aim was to determine whether MVPA and VPA were indirectly related with academic performance via waist circumference (WC). Methods: Physical activity (PA) and SED were measured by accelerometers. Academic performance was assessed by national tests in Danish and Math. Structural equation modeling was performed to evaluate whether MVPA, VPA, and SED were associated with academic performance and the potential PA–academic performance indirect relationship via WC. Results: MVPA and VPA were associated with academic performance, mediated via WC (β = 0.036; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.002 to 0.070 and β = 0.096; 95% CI, 0.027 to 0.164, respectively). SED was directly associated with academic performance (β = 0.124; 95% CI, 0.030 to 0.217, MVPA model and β = 0.132; 95% CI, 0.044 to 0.221, VPA model). WC was negatively associated with academic performance. Conclusions: Both PA and SED time were positively associated with academic performance. Based on this, PA should be encouraged in children and youth not only to promote physical health but also to promote academic performance. Future studies should distinguish between school-related SED and other SED activities and their relationship with academic performance.

Lima is with the CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasília, Brazil. Lima, Møller, and Bugge are with the Research Unit for Exercise Epidemiology, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Centre of Research in Childhood Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. Pfeiffer is with the Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Andersen is with the Faculty of Teacher Education and Sport, Sogn og Fjordane University College, Sogndal, Norway; and the Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway. Bugge is also with the Department of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, University College Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Lima (rodrigoantlima@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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