Teaching M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Henkel, Steve


This paper explores the relationship between physical activity and academic performance, the optimal amount of physical activity to enjoy these benefits, and the best way to measure this optimal amount of activity. Research yielding positive associations between physical activity and academic performance has increased significantly over the past 20 years. Multiple articles reviewed in this paper support the following examples of academic benefits gained from participating in physical activity: improved standardized test scores, higher grade point average, enhanced cognitive skills, and improved academic behaviors. Parents, teachers, and administrators understand these relationships to some degree but often, the implementation of physical activity into an already busy school day is haphazard to say the least. The identification of a threshold level of physical activity that provides these types of academic benefits would afford administrators an efficient prescription for use. Physical activity prescriptions are present for health-based benefits, but the research available on this topic does not successfully address it directly. Trends, however, can be seen across the spectrum of literature and a dose-response relationship is drawn in this review. Schools would also benefit from measuring physical activity to identify their own relationships and provide data for future research. As with finding the optimal amount of activity, conclusions from the literature may be drawn based on trends. Recommendations based on current technology also offer further solutions for measuring the optimal amount of physical activity for school-aged children to enjoy academic benefits.

Degree Name

Teaching M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis