Delaware students who are physically fit are more likely to perform well and to behave well in school - regardless of their gender, race, family income or school district.
That's the conclusion of a new study from the Delaware Department of Education and Nemours Health and Prevention Services. It suggests students who are more physically fit perform significantly better on state reading and mathematics tests. The study also found that students who are less physically fit have significantly more suspension days and absenteeism.
Gov. Jack Markell joined Pulaski Elementary School students in Wilmington today to announce the study's findings.
"Thank you to Nemours and the Delaware Department of Education for their work to understand and improve the well-being of our children," said Governor Markell. "The results show that exercise is good for our brains, good for our health and good for our state. I hope we can get the word out to more parents and students about the benefits of fitness."
While this study is the first to demonstrate these relationships among students in Delaware, its findings are consistent with a number of research studies suggesting a link between physical activity, student behavior and academic achievement. Such studies have shown that physical activity is linked to better concentration, reduced disruptive behaviors and higher test scores in reading, math and writing. Other states, such as Texas, have conducted similar studies to Delaware's that also have demonstrated that physically fit students are more likely to do better in school and less likely to have disciplinary problems.
Delaware data were collected from student tests for physical fitness and student records on behavior and academic achievement, with more than 80,000 student records examined.
The Delaware study controlled for family income, race, gender and school district, demonstrating that this relationship exists regardless of these variables.
"While this type of study cannot show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between fitness and achievement, it shows a strong connection between Delaware children's fitness and both their academic achievement and behavior," Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery said. "The findings support what we already know: We must pay attention to a child's entire well-being, recognizing that a student's physical health is important for the student's academic and social health."
An executive summary of the report is available here: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/news/2011/files/fitnessgramexecsummary.pdf. And the report is online here: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/news/2011/files/FitnessGram_Report_Final.pdf.
"Getting fit and enjoying the outdoors is the kind of homework that families can enjoy together," added Markell. "It's getting cold out, but there are still fun things to do outside. Delaware State Parks have great activities for children all year round."
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
Other Press Releases