Children who spent more time exercising made higher scores on English, math and science tests, according to a study co-authored by University of Georgia’s Phillip Tomporowski, who is a professor in UGA’s department of kinesiology.
The study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in October, compared the physical activity of 4755 children from the U.K. The children wore accelerometers, devices that measure motion, to track their physical activity for three to seven days. Their performance on national exams was then measured at the ages of 11, 13, and 15/16.
The greater the amount of physical activity children had at age 11, the higher they scored on the tests. Girls with higher physical activity did especially well on the science tests.
Tomporowski and the other authors noted that physical activity could increase test scores by improving executive function, which includes mental processes such as planning, remembering details and managing attention. See this article in the Huffington Post for more on this and other studies related to exercise and the brain.