Physical activity and cognition in children in relation to academic performance
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Background: The schools are demanding higher performance from their students and physical education is a subject that is easy to cut from the curriculum. As physical education steadily has declined since the 70s, the need to focus on the known benefits of physical activity in children is eminent. The aim of this paper is to look at the effects of physical activity and cognitive performance in school aged children and link is to the children’s academic achievement. Methods: A systematic search with pre-determined search terms was conducted using the electronic databases PubMed, SportDiscus and Web of Science searching for review studies on physical activity and cognitive function in a school based setting. The searched included school-aged children only, and only studies that included some form of physical activity intervention as well as a measure of cognitive function and academic achievement. Results: Four review articles were included for review, two meta-analysis and two systematic reviews. The presented findings did not show a positive association between physical activity and academic performance. The studies report significant but weak relationship between physical activity and cognitive performance or a neutral association. None of the studies found negative effects of allocation academic time towards more physical activity during the school day. Conclusion: The presented evidence cannot conclude in a positive relationship between physical activity and cognitive function. However given the positive outcome on children’s health, there lies no apparent reason why physical activity should not be an important part of the school day in both recess and as activity breaks as well as normal physical education.
Masteroppgave - Norges idrettshøgskole, 2014