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J Sch Health. 2015 Jun;85(6):365-71. doi: 10.1111/josh.12259.

Improving academic performance of school-age children by physical activity in the classroom: 1-year program evaluation.

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University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Center for Human Movement Sciences, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, 9713 AV Groningen, the Netherlands.



An intervention was designed that combined physical activity with learning activities. It was based upon evidence for positive effects of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on academic achievement. The aim of this study was to describe the program implementation and effects on academic achievement after 1 year.


Second- and third-grade classes of 6 elementary schools were included in the study. The intervention group participated in physically active academic lessons and the control group in regular classroom lessons. Implementation measures were obtained and the children were pretested and posttested on mathematics and reading.


Teacher observations and self-reports indicated that the lessons were implemented as planned. Classroom observations showed that children's on-task behavior during the lessons was above 70%. On the basis of heart rate measures, on average 64% of the lesson time was spent in MVPA. Posttest mathematics and reading scores of third-grade children who participated in the intervention were significantly higher in comparison with control children. Posttest mathematics scores of second-grade children in the intervention condition were significantly lower in comparison with control children.


The intervention program was successfully implemented and the lessons contributed to the academic outcomes of third-grade children.


academic achievement; physical activity; program evaluation; school-age children

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