Originally published April 6, 2022 in Consumer Affairs.

By Kristen Dalli

A new study conducted by researchers from the Technical University of Munich explored the importance of kids staying physically active. Their work showed that kids who were the most physically fit also showed stronger concentration and academic abilities.

“Primary school pupils with good physical fitness and a good ability to concentrate are more likely to make it to secondary grammar schools,” said researcher Renate Oberhoffer-Fritz.

Keeping kids physically fit

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 3,200 girls and 3,200 boys from Bavaria’s Berchtesgadener Land district. The children were between the ages of six and 10 years old, and they completed several different tests to measure physical fitness, concentration, and quality of life.

The researchers learned that the students’ physical fitness had a direct impact on their academic achievements and overall quality of life. They found that children with the greatest physical fitness also had the greatest concentration and were the most likely to be promoted to secondary grammar schools.

The study showed that the opposite was also true. Children who struggled with obesity also struggled with completing fitness assessments. They also had a harder time making friends at school and showed poorer health-related quality of life.

The researchers did note some differences between the male and female students. While female students outperformed male students when it came to concentration and overall health quality of life, the male students scored better on the physical fitness assessments.

Because of how important physical activity is for children’s physical health, mental health, and academic abilities, the researchers hope more work is done that encourages children to stay active and prioritize their physical fitness.

“This means it’s all the more important to encourage motor development in children at an early stage, since this can also have a positive impact on the development of mental fitness,” said Oberhoffer-Fritz. “Collaboration among parents, schools, communities, and athletic clubs is very important when it comes to creating a comprehensive and appropriate range of possibilities.”

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