Study finds link between physical health and academic test scores
TUESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- Fit bodies may bring kids better test scores in school, a new study finds.
''Children's physical fitness is associated with their academic performance," said study author Lesley Cottrell, an associate professor of pediatrics at West Virginia University, in Morgantown.
She is due to present the findings this week at the American Heart Association's 2010 Conference on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism in San Francisco.
In general, the fitter the student, the better the test scores, Cottrell's team found.
The researchers evaluated almost 1,200 students, assessing their fitness in the fifth grade and then again in the seventh grade. They tested them in four subjects in seventh grade -- reading, math, science and social studies -- using standardized tests.
The researchers hypothesized that those children who maintained fitness over the two-year span would have the best test scores, and they were right.
The fitness evaluation was done by the commonly used Fitness Gram, which tests fitness by such measures as the time it take to run a mile, then rates the student as in the healthy fitness zone or not.
Across each of the four academic areas, a child who was fit in fifth grade and maintained it at seventh grade had the highest scores, on average, in the standardized tests.
For example, those who were unhealthy in fifth grade and remained so were the worst at reading, with an average reading score of 2.91 points (of a possible 5). Those who were fit as fifth-graders but weren't fit by the seventh grade did only a little better academically, getting a 3.03 reading score.
In contrast, those who weren't fit in the fifth grade but got fit by seventh grade got an average reading score of 3.14, the team found.
And those who were in the "healthy" fit
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