Online Program

Examining the associations between Fitnessgram PACER laps and academic achievement among 3rd-5th elementary youth

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Melissa Fair, MPH, LiveWell Greenville, Greenville, SC
Morgan Hughey, MPH, Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behaviro, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Danielle Stevens, BS, School of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Natalie The, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Julian Reed, Ed.D., M.P.H., Department of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Alicia Powers, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC
The Institute of Medicine documents positive associations between participation in regular physical activity and brain health among youth. Aerobically fit children potentially have greater academic achievement and enhanced cognition compared to their less active peers. The purpose of the study was to examine the associations between Fitnessgram’s PACER and academic achievement among 3rd-5th grade elementary school youth in a large school district in South Carolina.

The aerobic capacity of youth in 51 public schools was assessed during the 2012-2013 academic year by each school’s certified physical educator using Fitnessgram’s PACER. PACER results, measured as completed laps, were compared to the SC Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) academic achievement test for multiple subject areas: reading (n=7018), writing (n=6999), math (n=7023), social studies (n=4436), and science (n=4470). PASS scores ranged between 300-900 points with each correct answer receiving one point and each incorrect answer no point. Linear regression was used to assess associations between PACER laps and PASS subject test scores.

There was a significant positive relationship between each additional PACER lap completed and score of each PASS subject test after adjusting for SES, age, gender, and race: reading (β= 0.33, p<.01), writing (β=.48, p<.01), math (β= 0.59, p<.01), social studies (β= 0.34, p<.01), and science (β= 0.26, p<.01) subject tests.

Results indicate positive associations between PACER laps and PASS academic achievement scores of 3rd-5thgrade youth. These results provide valuable evidence to advocate for policies at state and national levels to provide elementary school youth access to daily physical activity opportunities. 

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the associations between academic achievement and aerobic capacity using Fitnessgram’s Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER). Identify potential policy implications for increasing physical activity opportunities, including physical education in elementary school settings. Discuss how intensity of physical activity is linked to brain health and cognition.

Keyword(s): School-Based Health, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student whose research focuses on physical activity and childhood obesity prevention. I serve as the evaluation coordinator and schools evaluation specialist for a community coalition focused on nutrition and physical activity policy change in a number of settings including schools.
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.