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J Pediatr. 2014 Aug;165(2):306-312.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.04.044. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

Independent and combined influence of the components of physical fitness on academic performance in youth.

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Department of Physical Education, Sports, and Human Movement, Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Department of Physical Education, School of Education, University of Cadiz, Puerto Real, Spain.
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA.



To examine the independent and combined associations of the components of physical fitness with academic performance among youths.


This cross-sectional study included a total of 2038 youths (989 girls) aged 6-18 years. Cardiorespiratory capacity was measured using the 20-m shuttle run test. Motor ability was assessed with the 4×10-m shuttle run test of speed of movement, agility, and coordination. A muscular strength z-score was computed based on handgrip strength and standing long jump distance. Academic performance was assessed through school records using 4 indicators: Mathematics, Language, an average of Mathematics and Language, and grade point average score.


Cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability were independently associated with all academic variables in youth, even after adjustment for fitness and fatness indicators (all P≤.001), whereas muscular strength was not associated with academic performance independent of the other 2 physical fitness components. In addition, the combined adverse effects of low cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability on academic performance were observed across the risk groups (P for trend<.001).


Cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability, both independently and combined, may have a beneficial influence on academic performance in youth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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