Some school districts have reduced physical education classes to devote more time to the 3 Rs in educationóreading, writing, and arithmetic, although the long-term consequences of childhood obesity are well documented. However, there is new evidence that leaving out an important fourth Róaerobicsócould actually be counterproductive for increasing test scores.
A new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics studied the associations between aerobic fitness, body mass index (BMI), and passing scores on standardized math and reading tests.
Dr. Robert R. Rauner and colleagues from Lincoln Public Schools and Creighton University in Nebraska analyzed scaled scores from standardized tests for math and reading, as well as PACER (15-20 meter timed shuttle run), BMI, and free/reduced lunch data from all students enrolled in elementary and middle schools in Lincoln, NE. They found that aerobically-fit children had a 2.4 times greater chance of passing math tests and a 2.2 times greater chance of passing reading tests compared with aerobically-unfit children. Among those receiving free/reduced lunch, the odds of passing the tests were still greater than those of students who were aerobically-unfit, but not as high as those not receiving free/reduced lunch. They also found that BMI, although an important indicator for overall general health, did not have a significant effect on academic success.