2021
DOI: 10.1159/000514682
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Does Physical Activity Improve Cognition and Academic Performance in Children? A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Abstract: <b><i>Introduction:</i></b> In the last decades, different studies have investigated the effects of exercise or physical activity (PA) on cognitive functions and academic performance in children and adolescents. But given the inconsistencies regarding methodologies and the fact that many studies do not have controlled or randomized designs, a more recent review is needed in order to summarize the different outcomes and methodologies employed and correlate them from an applied perspectiv… Show more

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Cited by 14 publications
(7 citation statements)
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“…Recent systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials showed a significant and positive impact of PA on academic performance in youth. [53][54][55] However, the optimal volume of PA to achieve academic performance benefits is still unknown. Some studies have demonstrated that the combination of higher PA intensities and higher volumes lead to greater improvements for academic performance 56,57 Additionally, several cross-sectional studies have examined the associations between total objectively measured PA and academic performance but the evidence is mixed and inconclusive.…”
Section: Discussionmentioning
confidence: 99%
“…Recent systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials showed a significant and positive impact of PA on academic performance in youth. [53][54][55] However, the optimal volume of PA to achieve academic performance benefits is still unknown. Some studies have demonstrated that the combination of higher PA intensities and higher volumes lead to greater improvements for academic performance 56,57 Additionally, several cross-sectional studies have examined the associations between total objectively measured PA and academic performance but the evidence is mixed and inconclusive.…”
Section: Discussionmentioning
confidence: 99%
“…No studies have found adverse effects from physical activity programs. Therefore, the authors conclude that physical activity is positively related to motor skills and cognitive development in preschoolers or early childhood (Gao et al, 2018;Tomaczkowski & Klonowska, 2020;Vorkapic et al, 2021).…”
Section: Discussionmentioning
confidence: 91%
“…In addition, recent studies have shown that increased participation in physical activity affects cognitive function in children, including executive function (e.g., working memory and cognitive flexibility) and brain health. However, this study primarily targets older children and adolescents, while more evidence is needed to clarify the relationship between physical activity, health outcomes, and cognition during critical periods of child development, particularly early childhood (Vorkapic et al, 2021). One study suggested a significant effect of physical activity on motor skills (e.g., locomotor skills and object control skills) and cognitive development (i.e., language learning, academic achievement, attention, and working memory).…”
Section: Discussionmentioning
confidence: 99%
“…Our results did not provide evidence of a direct association between PA and academic achievement, which is in line with some findings from previous studies testing the impact of PA on children’s school performance [ 25 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 ]. In contrast, there is a large body of evidence stemming from systematic reviews endorsing positive acute and chronic effects (small to moderate effect sizes) of PA participation on academic achievement in children [ 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 ]. In our investigation, a self-reported PA measure was used and partly explained this disagreement with the bulk of the literature.…”
Section: Discussionmentioning
confidence: 99%
“…In youth, academic achievement is among the most studied constructs associated with cognitive (e.g., executive function) and psychological skills (e.g., goal setting, stress management, self-regulation) and has been considered of the utmost importance for navigating the challenges faced across the child’s lifetime [ 10 , 11 ]. Albeit some systematic reviews and meta-analytic investigations have suggested that PA interventions are associated with enhanced academic achievement, the literature has not yet reached a consensus [ 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 ].…”
Section: Introductionmentioning
confidence: 99%