The subject-dependent, cumulative, and recency association of aerobic fitness with academic performance in Taiwanese junior high school students



Abstract Background The objective of the current study was to examine whether the relation between aerobic fitness and academic achievement during adolescence is subject-dependent, and to investigate cumulative and recency effects. Methods This study made use of two nationwide datasets. The first was the aerobic fitness profile of junior high school students collected by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. The second contained the scores on the Basic Competence Test for Junior High School Students (BCTJH). The sample consisted of 382,259 students who completed the BCTJH in the 5â years between 2009 and 2013. Data on each studentâ s aerobic fitness during their three years of junior high school were matched with their exam results at the end of this period. Results The results revealed that students classified as highly-fit during at least one of the three years had higher BCTJH scores than those who never achieved this level, with the size of effect increasing with the length of time that fitness was maintained. Additionally, aerobic fitness in the final year was more closely linked to BCTJH scores than that in the earlier two years. Fitness was also more strongly associated with exam performance in math, science and social science, relative to language-related subjects. Conclusions Our findings suggest that while aerobic fitness is positively related to academic achievement in Taiwanese junior high school students, the relationship depends on academic subject, as well as the length and time of being aerobically fit.
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