Amika Singh of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center in Amsterdam and colleagues studied the relationship between physical activity and academic performance because of concerns that pressure to improve test scores may result in less time for physical activity.
The authors identified 10 observational and four interventional studies for review -- 12 U.S. studies, one in Canada and one in South Africa -- involving student ages 6-18. Follow-up varied from eight weeks to more than five years.
"According to the best-evidence synthesis, we found strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance," the study authors said in a statement. "The findings of one high-quality intervention study and one high-quality observational study suggest that being more physically active is positively related to improved academic performance in children."
The review, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, noted more high-quality studies are needed on the dose-response relationship between physical activity and academic performance, and on the explanatory mechanisms -- using reliable and valid measurement instruments to assess this relationship accurately.