Publication: Associations Between PA & Perceived School Performance of Young Adolescents in Health Behavior in School-Aged Children Countries

Research Impact:  Physical activity drops dramatically between the ages of 11 to 15y. At the same time, Education assessment is taken more seriously as age increases. Also, at this age, girls then to perform better academically, yet boys are more physically activity. Yet, prior research has been suggested that more physical activity and higher academic performance are correlated.  So, how is that the case? We looked at the associations with bouts of physical activity, as defined by the number of days of doing at least 60 minutes in a week, and academic performance, as defined as perceived school performance, across 42 countries in Europe and Canada. The data was taken from the  2013/14 @hbscstudy, that allowed school-aged children aged between 11-15 years old to report their physical activity and academic performance in different countries. Due to the different education systems across countries a standardised tool was used in relation to perceived school performance to allow pooling results as well as comparisons between countries. After checking the data carefully, we carried out a multinominal logistic regression to see how the associations changed based on bouts of physical activity and levels of school performance. The association between physical activity and school performance was not linear.

In other words, we could not confirm that more physical activity was associated with higher levels of school performance. What we did find was that students who reported 5-6 days of physical activity, and not 7 days of physical activity in a week were the most likely report the highest levels of academic performance, hence the association was an inverted U. These findings were the same between boys and girls and were represented similar in the majority of the included countries.

For the interest of data from Ireland, approximately 3500 students completed the survey. Similar to the main result, the associations between 5-6 days was associated with increases in academic performance. Although, the associations for daily physical activity and increases in academic performance were no different from individuals who reported between 0-2 days of physical activity. To conclude, the relationships between the self-reported physical activity and perceived academic performance is not linear and a careful balance is needed for optimal health and academic advancement.

Ng, K. W., Sudeck, G., Marques, A., Borraccino, A., Boberova, Z., Vasickova, J., Tesler, R., Kokko, S., & Samdal, O. (2020). Associations Between Physical Activity and Perceived School Performance of Young Adolescents in Health Behavior in School-Aged Children Countries, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, , 1-11. DOI:10.1123/jpah.2019-0522

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