Study Links Frequent Exercise to Improved Performance in Maths and French

The University of Geneva conducted a study that found that students who exercise frequently perform better in French and Math. The exercise also improved their executive and cognitive function.

The researchers titled the study The Indirect Role of Executive Functions on the Relationship between Cardiorespiratory Fitness and School Grades. They published it in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal.

When they compared physical fitness to cognition, children who exercised regularly had better academic performance in math and grammar due to improved cardiorespiratory health.

This link was indirect since exercise directly boosted cognitive and executive function, which led to better performance in the subjects. For this reason, scientists ask school administrators to consider the role exercise can play on students’ performance when allocating funds and creating timetables.

How researchers conducted the study

The team gathered 196 students between the ages of 8 and 12 and tested their school performance and activity levels. These students came from eight schools in Switzerland. They participated in shuttle run tests. This test required them to run back and forth while increasing speed between 20-meter lines.

The researchers used weight, height, sex, and age to test cardiovascular fitness. After the physical fitness tests, they used nine others to evaluate the children’s working memory, cognitive inhibition, and flexibility. With these tests, the team spotted a link between physical fitness and performance in French and Math.

A professor at the Northeastern University of Boston, and study co-author, Charles Hillman, has previously conducted studies on the relationship between academic performance and physical fitness.

Major executive functions

According to a study co-author and researcher at the University of Geneva, Marc Yanguez, there are three essential executive functions. These include inhibition, flexibility, and working memory.

Inhibit in defines a person capably to lower irrelevant thoughts and behavior. Flexibility which is also known as multitasking is their ability to switch between demands and tasks. Working memory, on the other hand, helps a person retain memory and apply it.

The researchers believe that this study proves that the school administrators should not abandon physical activity to focus solely on other subjects. The reason is that it could affect the performance and even physical development of children.

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