Background: This study was carried out to examine the association between systematic physical activity and academic performance in school kids after controlling for potential sociodemographic and educational confounders.
Methods: In a random sample of 1271 students from urban Santiago, attending 5th and 9th grade, who took the 2009 System for the Assessment of Educational Quality (SIMCE) tests, we measured physical activity habits, anthropometric characteristics, and socioeconomic status. Academic performance was measured by the standardized SIMCE tests. Logistic regressions assessed the relationship between the allocation of time to weekly scheduled exercise, potential confounding factors, and individual academic performance.
Results: About 80% of students reported less than 2 hours of weekly scheduled exercise, while 10.6% and 10.2% reported 2 to 4 hours/week and more than 4 hours/week, respectively. Devoting more than 4 hours/week to scheduled exercise significantly increased (P < .01) the odds of having SIMCE composite z-scores ≥ 50th percentile (OR: 2.3, 95% CI: 1.4 to 3.6) and ≥ 75th percentile (OR: 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3-3.3).
Conclusions: Better academic performance was associated with a higher allocation of time to scheduled exercise in school-age children.