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Jun 19, 2014 08:10 AM EDT

Physically Fit Teenagers Perform Better in Exams than Inactive Peers, Study

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Physically active teenagers fare well in exams than their inactive counterparts, according to a study by the University of Madrid.

Previous studies showed that engaging in physical activity during childhood and teenage years benefits both physical and mental well-being throughout life. This study establishes a link between exercise and brain health as well as academic performance.

In the study, the researchers determined the effect of physical fitness and academic performance. They measured cardio-respiratory capacity (aerobic fitness), muscular strength, and motor ability - factors that assess the physical well-being of individuals.

"Because these physical fitness components are highly associated with each other, it is important to differentiate which physical fitness components are important in relation to academic performance," Irene Esteban-Cornejo, of the Autonomous University of Madrid, said in a statement.

For the study, the researchers surveyed more than 2,000 Spanish children and teenagers, aged between 6-18 years, on physical fitness, body composition and academic performance. The researchers found that cardio-respiratory capacity and motor ability were related to academic performance, while muscular strength was not linked with academic performance. On the other hand, children and teenagers who weren't physically fit received lower grades.

"Having high levels of cardio-respiratory and motor fitness may, to some extent, reduce the risk of school failure," said Esteban-Cornejo.

Researchers said that school officials should implement measures to promote physical activities among children and teenagers for better grades.

The finding is published in the journal paediatrics.

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