Researchers assessed the activity levels and reading and math skills of 186 Finnish children in grades 1 to 3.
The study authors, from the University of Eastern Finland, report a link between higher levels of physical activity at recess and better reading skills, and a connection between participation in organised sports and higher math test scores.
Read: Giving disadvantaged kids a sporting chance
Active boys read better
In particular, boys with higher levels of physical activity – especially walking and bicycling to and from school – had better reading skills than less active boys, according to the research team.
They also found that boys who spent more time reading and writing during their leisure time had better reading skills than those who spent less time reading and writing.
Read: Mothers' activity levels rub off on kids
Also, boys who spent more time using computers or playing video games had better maths test scores than those with less computer and video game time.
Weaker link among girls
The link between physical activity levels and reading and math skills was weaker among girls, according to the study, published in the journal PLoS One.
Read: Active kids end up with strong bones
Though the study only found an association between activity and school skills and not a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers said the findings highlight how physical activity can benefit children's – and especially boys' – school performance.Image: A cute kid riding a bicycle with a helmet on from Shutterstock.
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