Student Achievement

Physically Fit Students Perform Better Academically, Study Finds

By Bryan Toporek — February 04, 2014 1 min read

Kansas elementary and middle school students who met certain physical-fitness benchmarks were considerably more likely to exceed reading and math performance standards, finds a new study released last week.

The study assessed data from more than 13,000 Kansas students in grades 4 through 9 from 152 schools across the state. Students underwent five FITNESSGRAM tests—curl-ups, 20-meter laps, trunk lifts, 90-degree push-ups, and the sit-and-reach—to determine whether their aerobic capacity, endurance, flexibility, and muscle strength fell into a “healthy fitness zone” for their age and gender.

After gathering that data, researchers compared the students’ performance on state reading and math assessments during the 2011-12 school year to the number of “healthy fitness zone” standards that they met. As it turned out, the percentage of students who performed above the standard on those state assessments grew based upon the number of fitness standards they achieved.

Below is the breakdown of how students fared on reading and math assessments, based on how many healthy-fitness-zone standards they met:

“The study is going to say it’s a relationship, which talks about it being a correlation,” said Mark Thompson, project director for the Kansas State Department of Education’s Healthy Kansas Schools project, to

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.