Exercise Could Help Kids Do Better In School

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Want your teen to do well in school? Encouraging him or her to hit the gym (or track, court or pavement) could help, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Dundee, University of Bristol and University of Georgia found that the more time teens spend exercising, the better they tend to do on tests for English, math and science.

The study included data from 4,755 youths in the U.K., part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, who were followed as they took national exams in English, math and science at ages 11, 13 and 15/16. Researchers took note of their amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which was monitored with accelerometers over a three-to-seven day period when they were age 11.

They found that the more active the child was at age 11, the greater their academic performance was during the tests in the following years. This held true even after taking into account other factors such as socioeconomic status, weight and the child's puberty status.

While the researchers only identified an association between physical activity and academic performance, they did note potential reasons for the link. For instance, "studies have revealed relationships between PA [physical activity] and relevant cognitive outcomes such as measures of executive function, as well as studies suggesting that PA might increase time 'on task' in class and reduce classroom 'problem behavior,'" they wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine study.

Previously, a Michigan State University study showed that physical fitness -- including strength, endurance and flexibility -- was linked with academic performance in middle-schoolers. Specifically, the most physically fit youths had standardized test scores that were nearly 30 percent higher than the most sedentary of their peers, NBC News reported.

And of course, it's not just physical exercise that could improve performance in school -- research has even shown that mental tactics, specifically mindfulness, could help college students do better on quizzes after listening to a lecture.

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