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Associations between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents from a UK cohort

Booth, J N and Leary, S D and Joinson, C and Ness, A R and Tomporowski, P D and Boyle, J M and Reilly, J J (2014) Associations between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents from a UK cohort. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48 (3). pp. 265-270. ISSN 0306-3674

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Abstract

To test for cross-sectional (at age 11) and longitudinal associations between objectively measured free-living physical activity (PA) and academic attainment in adolescents. Data from 4755 participants (45% male) with valid measurement of PA (total volume and intensity) by accelerometry at age 11 from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) was examined. Data linkage was performed with nationally administered school assessments in English, Maths and Science at ages 11, 13 and 16. In unadjusted models, total volume of PA predicted decreased academic attainment. After controlling for total volume of PA, percentage of time spent in moderate-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) predicted increased performance in English assessments in both sexes, taking into account confounding variables. In Maths at 16 years, percentage of time in MVPA predicted increased performance for males (standardised β=0.11, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.22) and females (β=0.08, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.16). For females the percentage of time spent in MVPA at 11 years predicted increased Science scores at 11 and 16 years (β=0.14 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.25) and 0.14 (0.07 to 0.21), respectively). The correction for regression dilution approximately doubled the standardised β coefficients. Findings suggest a long-term positive impact of MVPA on academic attainment in adolescence.