Relationship Between Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, And Academic Performance

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What is the Relationship between Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, and academic Performance?
Aliesha Y. Robinson
Millersville University

Author Note
Aliesha Y. Robinson, Department of Psychology, Millersville University.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Aliesha Y. Robinson, Department of Psychology, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551. Email:

What is the Relationship between Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, and Academic Performance? Students are constantly seeking ways to do better in school, especially if they are not doing well already. Some students may even drop out of school because they are not excelling. Thus, it is important to identify factors that may help students succeed in school. Bass, Brown, Laurson, and Coleman (2013) suggest that physical fitness may be one of these factors. Unfortunately, school districts and colleges are frequently having to make cuts because of insufficient funds. One of the things that are often decreased is the time spent in physical education or the availability of extracurricular sports. Several studies suggest that there is a correlation between physical activity and academic performance. In addition, I will explore whether the relationship between physical activity, physical fitness, and academic performance differs for males and females. Kwak et al. (2009) explored intense physical activity, fitness, and academic achievement in Swedish ninth grade students. The researchers found significant relationships among the variables, nut the patterns differ for boys and girls. In girls, there was a relationship between academic performance and vigorous physical activities; however, in boys, there was a relationship between actual fitness and academic achievement. Lambourne et al. (2013) examined whether physical activity improves academic achievement. Lambourne et al. hypothesized that physical activity would not have a direct effect on academic achievement, but that it will have an indirect affect via aerobic fitness. The researchers tested this hypothesized mediation using path analysis. Parents of second and third grade students supplied demographic data, while Lambourne et al. assessed academic achievement, aerobic fitness, and daily physical activity through accelerometry. They conducted the tests at the students’ schools using trained research staff that was not aware of the study’s purpose. The results showed a direct effect of physical activity on aerobic fitness and an indirect effect of physical activity via fitness on math achievement. Liao, Chang, Wang, and Wu (2013) proposed a study to examine the relationship between the changes of physical fitness of senior high school students in Taiwan. Linear regression models were used which included controls for students’ baseline physical fitness status, changes of physical fitness performance over time, age and family economic status. Liao et al. (2013) came to the conclusion that education and school health policy makers should implement policies to improve the physical fitness of their students so that they perform better academically. Currie et al. (2012) performed a study to examine variables that may account for academic achievement. The researchers examined Relationships between cumulative GPA and four categories of life-skills. A hierarchal multiple-regression analysis revealed that the four life-skills categories predicted a variance in cumulative GPA beyond high school GPA and SAT scores (according to Currie et al. (2012). Of all four of the categories, physical fitness and health maintenance skills made a significant impact in the prediction of the students’ cumulative GPA. Reed, Maslow, Long, and Hughey (2013) examined the impact of 45 minutes of daily physical education on cognitive ability, fitness performance, and body composition on African American youth. Second to eighth grade students completed an informed consent