Adolescent Changes in Aerobic Fitness Are Related to Changes in Academic Achievement

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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There is a growing trend of decreasing physical fitness among adolescents, which may result not only in poorer physical health, but also in poorer academic achievement. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the changes in aerobic fitness and academic achievement in reading and mathematics during middle school. Methods: This study employed a prospective, longitudinal cross-sectional design. Fifty-two adolescents were followed from sixth grade through eighth grade. In the spring, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students completed Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run tests measuring aerobic fitness. In addition, students also completed Illinois Standards Achievement Test academic achievement tests in reading and mathematics. Results: Changes in aerobic fitness between sixth and eighth grade were positively related to changes in academic achievement in both reading and mathematics between sixth and eighth grade. Conclusion: These data suggest that changes in aerobic fitness may modulate changes in academic achievement. These findings highlight the importance of physical activity and have broad relevance for educational systems and policies.

Raine, Saliba, and Hillman are with the Dept. of Kinesiology & Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. Biggan, Baym, Cohen, and Hillman are with Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. Cohen and Hillman are also with the Dept. of Psychology, Neuroscience Program, and Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.

Address author correspondence to Lauren B. Raine at l.raine@northeastern.edu.
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