Kids who are active and physically fit not only outperform their peers on the soccer pitch, they also finish first in the classroom, according to a new study from Michigan State University.
The study, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, found that middle school students who were in the best physical shape scored higher than their classmates on standardized tests and received better grades on their report cards.
Lead researcher Dawn Coe said the study is one of the first to examine all aspects of physical fitness in relation to academic performance.
“We looked at the full range of what’s called health-related fitness,” said Coe, including body fat, flexibility, endurance and muscular strength.
Researchers studied 312 middle school students, putting them through standard exercises such as push-ups and shuttle runs.
They compared fitness scores to the students’ grades and the results of a standardized test.
What they found was that regardless of gender or whether or not they had gone through puberty yet, the students who were the most physically fit also got the highest marks.
Researchers said the results suggest cutting out physical fitness programs in schools to focus on core subjects may undercut the success of the students overall.
They also argue that fitness in childhood sets the students up for future success.
“Fit kids are more likely to be fit adults,” he said. “And now we see that fitness is tied to academic achievement. So hopefully the fitness and the success will both continue together,” said co-author James Pivarnik.
Get your kids fit this summer with Stryker Sports offering basketball and volleyball skills development programs for boys and girls ages 6 through 16 as they progress through the various stages of development in their respective sport.