198530 Children's aerobic fitness and academic achievement: A longitudinal examination of students during their 5th and 7th grade years

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Richard A. Wittberg, PhD , Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, Parkersburg, WV
Lesley A. Cottrell, PhD , Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Karen L. Northrup, RN, MS , MIS, Wood County Schools, Parkersburg, WV
Children's aerobic fitness is associated with academic achievement. With data from students during their 5th and 7th grade years, this study examined the relationship between academic achievement testing and aerobic fitness. Fitness levels were defined through FITNESSGRAM, and academic achievement through state-required standardized tests in mathematics, reading/language arts, social studies, and science. Students were divided into 4 subsets In the healthy fitness zone in 5th and in 7th, In the healthy fitness zone in 5th but Not in 7th, Not in the healthy fitness zone in 5th but In in 7th, and Not in the healthy fitness zone in 5th and 7th. The analysis suggests that students In the healthy zone for aerobic fitness in both 5th and 7th grade scored best in academic achievement tests. Students Not in the healthy fitness zone at both points scored the lowest of all 4 groups. This work has policy implications for public health and education. Previous work has indicated (1) aerobically fit students have healthier BMI's and less risk of high blood pressure or Acanthosis Nigricans (a risk factor for Type II Diabetes), and (2) weight gain and % weight gain is significantly more beginning at the underweight category and increasing with each BMI category through the obese category. Associations between fitness and academic achievement encourage study of interventions designed to increase aerobic capacity and potential associations with cognitive performance. If effective, these interventions should be applied to the school setting as a strategy to assist students in optimizing their academic potential.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the relationship between academic achievement and aerobic fitness in the school-age population. 2. Explain the value of testing aerobic fitness interventions as a strategy for improving student academic potential. 3. Discuss the policy implications of this fitness/academic achievement work for the fields of public health and education.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I assisted in the research and analysis of the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.