Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research.
The study, of about 5,000 children, found links between exercise and exam success in English, maths and science. It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls. The study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found physical activity particularly benefited girls' performance at science.
The authors said this could be a chance finding or reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain. Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16, the study suggested. Most of the teenagers' exercise levels were found to be well below the recommended 60 minutes a day.
The authors speculated what might happen to academic performance if children got the recommended amount. They claimed that since every 15 minutes of exercise improved performance by an average of about a quarter of a grade, it was possible children who carried out 60 minutes of exercise every day could improve their academic performance by a full grade - for example, from a C to a B, or a B to an A.
However, the authors admitted this was speculation given that very few children did anywhere near this amount of exercise.