Friday, January 30, 2009

Physical Fitness: More than Just Good for the Body

US researchers have found a link between fitness status (as determined by 5 fitness tests and BMI) and academic achievement in school-aged kids. The participants ranged from grades 4 to 8 and had their physical fitness assessed by performing an endurance cardiovascular test, an abdominal strength test, a flexibility test, an upper body strength test, and an agility test. Academic achievement was assessed using standardized tests of both Math and English.

The researchers found a consistent, statistically significant link between number of fitness tests passed and academic achievement. To cap things, the more overweight the kids were, as determined by their BMI, the lower their academic scores were, on average.

The researchers do not know what the exact link here is, but they think it's safe to say that physical activity and fitness improves mental health and brain activity. They went on to say that ‘‘regular exercise can also alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression—problems that can affect school performance—and can even boost self-esteem."

Even if none of us are still in elementary school, the take-home message here seems to be that regular exercise not only does a body good, but it helps our minds stay sharp and...gasp...might even make us a little happier, more confident and less stressed out!

Sounds like a good deal to us.