Less Physical Activity Tied to Lagging Reading in Boys

Emerging research suggests little physical activity may leave six to eight year-old boys behind on their reading skills.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge, discovered sedentary behavior was linked to less than optimal academic performance in the first three school years.

The findings have been recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine and Sport.

Researchers discovered high levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and low levels of sedentary time in first grade were related to better reading skills in grades one to three among boys.

Conversely, boys who had a combination of low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary time had the poorest reading skills through grades one to three, said researcher Eero Haapala, Ph.D.

The review was a component of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study, conducted at the University of Eastern Finland.

In the study, investigators investigated the longitudinal associations of physical activity and sedentary time with reading and arithmetic skills in 153 children aged six to eight years old in grades one to three of the primary school.

Physical activity and sedentary time were measured objectively using a combined heart rate and movement sensor in grade one, and reading and arithmetic skills were assessed by standardized tests in grades one to three.

Interestingly, girls did not show a strong association between sedentary time and physical activity as related to performance of reading or arithmetic skills.

Researchers believe the findings suggest that promoting physically active lifestyle may kick-start boys’ school performance.

Source: University of Eastern Finland/EurekAlert