Examining the Impact of Integrating Physical Activity on Fluid Intelligence and Academic Performance in an Elementary School Setting: A Preliminary Investigation

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Purpose:

To examine the impact of integrating physical activity with elementary curricula on fluid intelligence and academic achievement.

Methods:

A random sample of 3rd grade teachers integrated physical activity into their core curricula approximately 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week from January 2008 to April 2008. Noninvasive fluid intelligence cognitive measures were used along with State-mandated academic achievement tests.

Results:

Experimental Group children averaged close to 1200 pedometer steps per integration day, thus averaging 3600 steps per week. Children in the Experimental Group performed significantly better on the SPM Fluid Intelligence Test. Children in the Experimental Group also performed significantly better on the Social Studies State mandated academic achievement test. Experimental Group children also received higher scores on the English/Language Arts, Math and Science achievements tests, but were not statistically significant compared with Control Group children. Children classified in Fitnessgram’s Healthy Fitness Zone for BMI earned lower scores on many of the SPM Fluid Intelligence components.

Discussion:

This investigation provides evidence that movement can influence fluid intelligence and should be considered to promote cognitive development of elementary-age children. Equally compelling were the differences in SPM Fluid Intelligence Test scores for children who were distinguished by Fitnessgram’s BMI cut points.

Reed is with the Dept of Health and Exercise Science, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Einstein and Hahn are with the Dept of Psychology, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Hooker is with the Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Gross and Kravitz are Furman Advantage Fellows, Furman University, Greenville, SC.