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A Physical Education trial improves adolescents' cognitive performance and academic achievement: the EDUFIT study

Authors

  • D. N. Ardoy,

    1. PROFITH “PROmoting FITness and Health Through Physical Activity” Research Group, Department of Physical Education and Sports, School of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Spain
    2. Department of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
    3. Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
    4. Department of Physical Education, IES J. Martínez Ruiz Azorín of Yecla, Ministry of Education of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
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  • J. M. Fernández-Rodríguez,

    1. Department of Physical Education, IES Vega del Argos of Cehegín, Ministry of Education of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
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  • D. Jiménez-Pavón,

    1. GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
    2. Department of Physical Education, University School of Education “Sagrado Corazón”, University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
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  • R. Castillo,

    1. School of Psychology, University of Málaga, Málaga, Spain
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  • J. R. Ruiz,

    1. PROFITH “PROmoting FITness and Health Through Physical Activity” Research Group, Department of Physical Education and Sports, School of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Spain
    2. Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
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  • F. B. Ortega

    1. PROFITH “PROmoting FITness and Health Through Physical Activity” Research Group, Department of Physical Education and Sports, School of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Spain
    2. Department of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
    3. Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
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Corresponding author: Francisco B. Ortega, PhD, School of Sports Sciences, University of Granada, Carretera Alfacar s/n 18071, Granada, Spain. Tel: +34 958 244374, Fax: +34 958 244369, E-mail: ortegaf@ugr.es

Abstract

To analyze the effects of an intervention focused on increasing the time and intensity of Physical Education (PE), on adolescents' cognitive performance and academic achievement. A 4-month group-randomized controlled trial was conducted in 67 adolescents from South-East Spain, 2007. Three classes were randomly allocated into control group (CG), experimental group 1 (EG1) and experimental group 2 (EG2). CG received usual PE (two sessions/week), EG1 received four PE sessions/week and EG2 received four PE sessions/week of high intensity. Cognitive performance (non-verbal and verbal ability, abstract reasoning, spatial ability, verbal reasoning and numerical ability) was assessed by the Spanish Overall and Factorial Intelligence Test, and academic achievement by school grades. All the cognitive performance variables, except verbal reasoning, increased more in EG2 than in CG (all P < 0.05). Average school grades (e.g., mathematics) increased more in EG2 than in CG. Overall, EG2 improved more than EG1, without differences between EG1 and CG. Increased PE can benefit cognitive performance and academic achievement. This study contributes to the current knowledge by suggesting that the intensity of PE sessions might play a role in the positive effect of physical activity on cognition and academic success. Future studies involving larger sample sizes should confirm or contrast these preliminary findings.

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