Exercise 'boosts academic performance' of teenagers

Pupils taking part in yoga class Those who did the most exercise did better academically according to the research

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Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research.

The study, of about 5,000 children, found links between exercise and exam success in English, maths and science.

It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls.

The study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found physical activity particularly benefited girls' performance at science.

The authors said this could be a chance finding or reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain.

Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16, the study suggested.

'Low exercise levels'

Most of the teenagers' exercise levels were found to be well below the recommended 60 minutes a day.

The authors speculated what might happen to academic performance if children got the recommended amount.

They claimed that since every 15 minutes of exercise improved performance by an average of about a quarter of a grade, it was possible children who carried out 60 minutes of exercise every day could improve their academic performance by a full grade - for example, from a C to a B, or a B to an A.

However, the authors admitted this was speculation given that very few children did anywhere near this amount of exercise.

Dr Josie Booth, one of the leaders of the study, from Dundee University said: "Physical activity is more than just important for your physical health.

"There are other benefits and that is something that should be especially important to parents, policy-makers and people involved in education."

The authors of the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, said further research backing the findings could have implications fore public health and education policy.

The study was funded by a grant from the BUPA Foundation to the University of Strathclyde.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    "That's because there is likely to be a strong statistical association between enjoying playing football and dimness."

    "Likely to be"???

    You have some figures? Some source of your data?

    Or are you just spouting off some random statement to support your claim?

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.


    "Intelligent people like me tend to partake in activities like hill-walking, squash and cycling."

    Not really ateam player are you Alan, unless you also get a lot of exercise sticking your tongue in your cheek

  • Comment number 231.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Oh dear another bbc non news story,,,yawn.

    Can't we have a HYS on the '(Please) go home vans' story?

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    People worry to much and there are lots of organised sports groups for kids. When I was young there were reports of abductions (I wasn't allowed to walk to school unattended despite living 100m away), but in reality they are very rare. Or get a group of parents and take it in turns to go with them to a park.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    "Another "this causes that in childhood" story"

    In truth it's another "let's discuss trivia, based on some speculative research"

    The powers that be would not want us to discuss anything important, would they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    223. alan
    I agree, but I must admit I am running out of new places to walk my hill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    209.Sally the Rothbardian
    15 Minutes ago
    It's good to see people recognising that a healthy body aids a healthy mind. Your body is a machine, keep it all in good shape, and it'll work like clockwork.


    I.E. They need to be wound up on a regular basis!

    Where does the key go?

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Moderate exercise, like walking, makes me feel clearer and more focused. Some people on here are confusing mental clarity with education. They are not the same thing, but "blowing the cob webs away" does help with learning and work related tasks, at any age. It's obvious, isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    218.Slave to the System - I am not a number

    Funny how science has to catch up to common sense.
    I see it as science confirming common sense, which isn't always the case. Was a time when it was common sense objects had to be continually pushed else they'd stop moving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    207 CTM87
    That's because there is likely to be a strong statistical association between enjoying playing football and dimness.
    After all it's basically kicking a kiddie's toy around a field.
    Intelligent people like me tend to partake in activities like hill-walking, squash and cycling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    I was frightened to play hockey at school. Girls were always getting hit in the face with hockey sticks and flying hard balls. The black eyes and broken noses were enough to put lots of us off, so we all tried not to be chosen for the team. If only there had been non violent sports on offer, like dance. And indoor stuff so we didn't freeze in winter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Another "this causes that in childhood" story, when as always, the parents cause the lot.

    Parents who encourage their children are more likely to exercise, read more, succeed in maths and science, play music, eat healthily, go on to university and any number of other things.

    None of the "things" cause each other, they are all caused by parenting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    @192 Yeah the Monty Hall problem rocks.

    Even noted mathematician Paul Erdos didn't believe it until he saw a computer simulation.
    If you ever get the chance read "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers"

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.


    You have touched on an issue here which is in part why children are not as active anymore. Letting them go out and play with their friends is not the no brainer it was years ago. How much independence can we give our kids without comprimising their safety? I hear regularly of attempted abductions in my area.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    And still successive governments and councils dug up the playing fields and sold them off for housing....

    Funny how science has to catch up to common sense. Sadly Headmasters and Councils dont value exercise. If they did there would be more emphasis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    211.uʍop ǝpısdn

    ... and I'm sure he's not sitting at home on the sofa of an evening with Mrs B, "You know what Vicky, I wish I'd done better at school".


    I'm certain that he won't saying "I wish I'd married someone who can sing, write songs and enter into intelligent conversation"

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    I agree that the most accademic were generally the least sporty, but thisisn't saying that sporting and academic ability are correlated. It's saying that exercise (not being good at sport) increases the individual's performance relative to whatever starting point. (Also sporty people tend to be more popular so less time to do homework!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    38. Billy
    either bad science or bad journalism becuase there is no mention of the study controlling for things like socio-economic grouping. It also makes the schoolboy-error of equating correlation with causation.

    The Word Speculation does appear a lot in this article.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    I would imagine that the mental as well as the physical beneficial effects of exercise would apply to all people not just students.
    You only have to look around you to see that there is likely to be a strong statistical correlation between dimness and inactivity.


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