Physical fitness and academic performance in youth: A systematic review

C. C.A. Santana, L. B. Azevedo, M. T. Cattuzzo, J. O. Hill, L. P. Andrade, W. L. Prado

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

167 Citations (Scopus)


Physical fitness (PF) is a construct of health- and skill-related attributes which have been associated with academic performance (AP) in youth. This study aimed to review the scientific evidence on the association among components of PF and AP in children and adolescents. A systematic review of articles using databases PubMed/Medline, ERIC, LILACS, SciELO, and Web of Science was undertaken. Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies examining the association between at least one component of PF and AP in children and adolescents, published between 1990 and June 2016, were included. Independent extraction of articles was carried out by the two authors using predefined data fields. From a total of 45 studies included, 25 report a positive association between components of PF with AP and 20 describe a single association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and AP. According to the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines: 12 were classified as low, 32 as medium risk, and 1 as high risk of bias. Thirty-one studies reported a positive association between AP and CRF, six studies with muscular strength, three studies with flexibility, and seven studies reported a positive association between clustered of PF components and AP. The magnitude of the associations is weak to moderate (β = 0.10–0.42 and odds = 1.01–4.14). There is strong evidence for a positive association between CRF and cluster of PF with AP in cross-sectional studies; and evidence from longitudinal studies for a positive association between cluster of PF and AP; the relationship between muscular strength and flexibility with AP remains uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-603
Number of pages25
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number6
Early online date7 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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