Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092334
  • Original article

Associations between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents from a UK cohort

Open AccessPress Release
  1. J J Reilly1
  1. 1School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  3. 3School of Oral and Dental Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol Dental School, Bristol, UK
  4. 4School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Bristol, UK
  5. 5University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr J N Booth, School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN, UK; j.booth{at}
  • Accepted 11 September 2013
  • Published Online First 22 October 2013


Background To test for cross-sectional (at age 11) and longitudinal associations between objectively measured free-living physical activity (PA) and academic attainment in adolescents.Method Data from 4755 participants (45% male) with valid measurement of PA (total volume and intensity) by accelerometry at age 11 from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) was examined. Data linkage was performed with nationally administered school assessments in English, Maths and Science at ages 11, 13 and 16.

Results In unadjusted models, total volume of PA predicted decreased academic attainment. After controlling for total volume of PA, percentage of time spent in moderate-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) predicted increased performance in English assessments in both sexes, taking into account confounding variables. In Maths at 16 years, percentage of time in MVPA predicted increased performance for males (standardised β=0.11, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.22) and females (β=0.08, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.16). For females the percentage of time spent in MVPA at 11 years predicted increased Science scores at 11 and 16 years (β=0.14 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.25) and 0.14 (0.07 to 0.21), respectively). The correction for regression dilution approximately doubled the standardised β coefficients.

Conclusions Findings suggest a long-term positive impact of MVPA on academic attainment in adolescence.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Open Access

Free sample

This 2015 issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of BJSM.
View free sample issue >>

Email alerts

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article