2012 - Research

Physical Activity and Performance at School

A Systematic Review of the Literature Including a Methodological Quality Assessment

The purpose of this study is to describe the prospective relationship between physical activity and academic performance.

  • Prospective studies for this systematic review were identified from searches in PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central, and Sportdiscus from 1990 through 2010. Studies were selected by screening the titles and abstracts for eligibility, rating the methodological quality of the studies, and extracting the data. Studies had to report at least one physical activity or physical fitness measurement during childhood or adolescence. Studies also had to report at least one academic performance or cognition measure during childhood or adolescence.
  • This systematic review identified 10 observational and 4 intervention studies. The quality score of the studies ranged from 22% to 75%. Two studies were scored as high quality. Methodological quality scores were particularly low for the reliability and validity of the measurement instruments. Based on the results of the best-evidence synthesis, there was evidence of a significant longitudinal positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance.
  • Participation in physical activity is positively related to academic performance in children. Because only 2 high-quality studies were found, future high-quality studies are needed to confirm our findings. These studies should thoroughly examine the dose-response relationship between physical activity and academic performance as well as explanatory mechanisms for this relationship.

Singh, A., L. Uijtdewilligen, et al. (2012). "Physical Activity and Performance at School: A Systematic Review of the Literature Including a Methodological Quality Assessment." Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med166(1): 49-55.