Purpose: The current investigation aimed to investigate the longitudinal association between physical fitness and academic performance over 3 years in adolescents. A secondary aim was to determine to what extent waist circumference mediated the association between physical fitness and academic performance. Methods: For the current study, 1020 students from first grade [mean age: 7.87 (0.34) y] to fifth grade [mean age: 11.87 (0.37) y] were monitored annually for 3 years (2010–2013). Physical fitness was assessed using the Andersen test, 5 × 5-m shuttle run, jump height, and grip strength tests and by constructing a composite score combining all 4 fitness tests. Academic performance was assessed by national standardized tests in Danish language and math. Generalized structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the relationships between these variables. Results: The Andersen test (standardized β = 0.15 SD), shuttle run (β = −0.18 SD), jump height (β = 0.10 SD), and the fitness composite score (β = 0.23 SD) were positively associated with academic performance over 3 years. In addition, waist circumference partially mediated the association between physical fitness and academic performance. Conclusion: Thus, physical fitness abilities should be stimulated during childhood and early adolescence because of their positive association with academic performance.
Rodrigo Antunes Lima, Lisbeth Runge Larsen, Anna Bugge and Lars Bo Andersen
Rodrigo Antunes Lima, Karin A. Pfeiffer, Niels Christian Møller, Lars Bo Andersen and Anna Bugge
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.