Active Children Perform Better in Maths

ICSSPE Contributes to Unique International study
08/17/2018 14:44

Children who attend schools that offer extra physical activity programmes a couple of times a week over a longer period of time have better performance scores on math.


This is the result of a literature-based study carried out by the Department Public and Occupational Health of the Amsterdam UMC together with 12 international experts. Researcher Amika Singh: ‘Physical activity programmes seem only effective if they are carried out for a longer period of time and with a certain frequency. This is why we plead for investments by governments to make the implementation of these kinds of physical activity programs happen.’ Singh and her colleagues publish their research today in the renowned journal ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’


Do physical activity programmes lead to better school performance? With this question, Singh and her colleagues analysed the results of 58 studies on the effect of physical activity programmes on cognitive performance (e.g. attention or working performance) and academic performance (e.g. grades, GAP). The researchers found that only 11 out of 58 studies met the quality requirements for the predicate high quality.


Positive effect

The researchers found no convincing evidence for a positive effect of physical activity programmes on cognitive performance and general academic performance. What they did find was that children who frequently attend physical activity programmes at school over a longer period of time, performed better in math tests. The programmes where positive effects on children’s math performance was reported ran for approximately 2-3 school years and activities were offered 3-5 times per week.


Slow and steady wins the race

In many other school-based programmes that the researchers included, children were less active, and effects were measured after shorter periods of time, e.g. after three months. The researchers advise government, education, research and funding bodies to invest in long term and good quality research on the effects of PA on school performance.


The current attention that is paid to this area of research is encouraging, and reflects the urgency of the need to increase physical activities at school. What is really exciting is the chance to secure a double whammy: active students are healthier; and also better perform in maths.