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Healthy Kids : Physical Activity May Boost School Performance, Especially for Boys

Posted September 13, 2014

THURSDAY, Sept. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children might do better in school if they're more physically active, a new study suggests.

Researchers assessed the activity levels and reading and math skills of 186 Finnish children in grades 1 to 3.

The study authors, from the University of Eastern Finland, report a link between higher levels of physical activity at recess and better reading skills, and a connection between participation in organized sports and higher math test scores.

In particular, boys with higher levels of physical activity -- especially walking and bicycling to and from school -- had better reading skills than less active boys, according to the research team.

They also found that boys who spent more time reading and writing during their leisure time had better reading skills than those who spent less time reading and writing. Also, boys who spent more time using computers or playing video games had better math test scores than those with less computer and video game time.

The link between physical activity levels and reading and math skills was weaker among girls, according to the study, published Sept. 11 in the journal PLoS One.

Though the study only found an association between activity and school skills and not a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers said the findings highlight how physical activity can benefit children's -- and especially boys' -- school performance.

-- Robert Preidt

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