Empirical Evidence: Physical Fitness & Academic Performance

Yesterday we looked at Karen Rodenroth’s dissertation on the connections between physical activity and academic performance. Today we can look at an empirical study which also looks at the link between physical activity and academic performance.

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between the changes of physical fitness across the 3-year spectrum of senior high school study and academic performance measured by standardized tests in Taiwan.

A unique dataset of 149 240 university-bound senior high school students from 2009 to 2011 was constructed by merging two nationwide administrative datasets of physical fitness test performance and the university entrance exam scores. Hierarchical linear regression models were used. All regressions included controls for students’ baseline physical fitness status, changes of physical fitness performance over time, age and family economic status. Some notable findings were revealed.

An increase of 1 SD on students’ overall physical fitness from the first to third school year is associated with an increase in the university entrance exam scores by 0.007 and 0.010 SD for male and female students, respectively. An increase of 1 SD on anaerobic power (flexibility) from the first to third school year is positively associated with an increase in the university entrance exam scores by 0.018 (0.010) SD among female students.

The researchers suggest that education and school health policymakers should consider and design policies to improve physical fitness as part of their overall strategy of improving academic performance.

Reference

Pei-An, L., Hung-Hao, C., Jiun-Hao, W. & Min-Chen, W. (2013) Physical Fitness and Academic Performance: Empirical Evidence from the National Administrative Senior High School Student Data in Taiwan. Health Education Research. 28(3), pp.512-522.

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