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Exercise 'may boost school performance'

BBC News has reported that there is “strong evidence of a link between exercise and academic performance”. The news service says that a review of previous research found a link, which could be due to exercise increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

The news was based on a Dutch review that systematically assessed 14 studies. These studies had previously looked at a possible link between the amount of exercise done by a child or adolescent and their academic ability. The researchers conclude that the studies show an association between exercise and academic achievement, but they stress that only two of the 14 studies could be considered to be of high quality. It is, therefore, not possible to determine the extent to which exercise is associated with academic performance, and the authors do not provide any numerical data to support the relationship.

As the researchers themselves have highlighted, there is a need for further high-quality studies to be performed to clarify any potential link. In particular, none of the studies used an objective measure of physical activity, so it is not clear whether the exercise estimates in existing studies have been accurate.