(HealthDay News) — Cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability have independent and combined effects on academic performance in youth, according to a study published online June 19 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Irene Esteban-Cornejo, from the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 2,038 youth (989 girls), aged 6–18 years, to examine the correlations of the components of physical fitness with academic performance. Cardiorespiratory fitness, motor ability, and muscular strength were measured. Four indicators were used to assess academic performance: mathematics, language, an average of mathematics and language, and grade point average scores.

The researchers found that there were independent associations for cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability with all academic variables, even after adjustment for indicators of fitness and fatness (all P≤0.001). There was no association for muscular strength and indicators of academic performance, independent of cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability. Across risk groups, combined adverse effects of low cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability were observed on academic performance (P for trend<0.001).

“From a public health perspective, promoting physical activity that involves aerobic exercise and motor tasks during the school years to enhance cardiorespiratory capacity and motor ability may be important not only for health, but also for successful academic development and thus for potential occupational success later in life,” the authors write.

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