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Aim: There is an emerging body of evidence on the potential effects of regular physical activity on academic performance. The aim of this study was to add to the debate, by examining the association between objectively measured physical activity and academic performance in a relatively large sample of children and adolescents. Methods: The Spanish UP & DOWN study is a 3-year longitudinal study designed to assess the impact, overtime, of physical activity and sedentary behaviours on health indicators. This present analysis was conducted with 1778 children and adolescents aged 6–18 years. Physical activity was objectively measured by accelerometry. Academic performance was assessed using school grades. Results: Physical activity was inversely associated with all academic performance indicators after adjustment for potential confounders, including neonatal variables, fatness and fitness ( all p < 0.05 ). This association became nonsignificant among quartiles of physical activity. There were only slight differences in academic performance between the lowest and the second quartile of physical activity, compared to the highest quartile, with very small effect size ( d < 0.20 ). Conclusion: Objectively measured physical activity may influence academic performance during both childhood and adolescence, but this association was negative and very weak. Longitudinal and intervention studies are necessary to further our understanding.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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