A new research has found that children with healthy heart and lungs do better at school. Having a healthy heart and lungs may help middle school students secure higher grades in math and reading. “Cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor that we consistently found to have an impact on both boys’ and girls’ grades on reading and math tests,” said study co-author Trent A. Petrie. “This provides more evidence that schools need to re-examine any policies that have limited students’ involvement in physical education classes,” he added.
The researchers gathered data at five Texas middle schools from 1,211 students, of whom, 54 percent were female with an average age of about 12. Overall, the group was 57 percent white. While previous studies have found links between being physically fit and improved academic performance, this study also examined several other potential influences, including self-esteem and social support. It also took into account the students’ socio-economic status and their self-reported academic ability, Petrie said. In addition to cardiorespiratory fitness, social support was related to better reading scores among boys, according to the study. It defined social support as reliable help from family and friends to solve problems or deal with emotions.
For girls, having a larger body mass index was the only factor other than cardiorespiratory fitness that predicted better reading scores. For boys and girls, cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor related to their performance on the math tests. These findings were presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.