2009 - Research

Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance. A Research Brief

This research brief highlights research showing that setting aside time for daily physical education does not hurt academic performance and that children who are physically active and fit tend to perform better in the classroom.

  • Eight representative surveys from the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Australia found that children and adolescents who participated in physical activity had better academic performance. However, none of these studies assessed academic performance with standardized educational tests.
  • FITNESSGRAM® test results from more than 2.4 million Texas students showed that physically fit students tended to perform better on academic achievement tests, had better school attendance rates and fewer disciplinary incidents involving drugs, alcohol, violence or truancy.
  • In a study of 11,000 elementary school students, teachers reported better classroom behavior for students who had more than 15 minutes of daily recess.
  • Several studies show that more time in physical education and other school-based physical activity does not adversely affect academic performance, and in some cases, improves academic performance. Generally, children who are more physically fit tend to perform better academically, and have better school attendance and fewer disciplinary problems.

Trost. (2009). Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance. A Research Brief. . Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Summer.