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Sport improves children’s concentration and quality of life

A new study led by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has found that physical activity is highly beneficial for primary school children. According to the researchers, there is a strong correlation between physical fitness, concentration, and health-related quality of life in young children. Moreover, these children were more likely to be later on admitted to higher-level grammar schools than those with less sporting abilities.

The researchers investigated the benefits of sport activities on a cohort of 3285 girls and 3248 boys from Bavaria’s Berchtesgadener Land district. By internationally standardized test procedures, the scientists assessed the relationship between physical strength and endurance and the ability to concentrate. 

They found that the higher the level of children’s physical fitness, the better they could concentrate and the higher their health-related quality of life. While the boys did better on fitness tests, the girls scored higher in terms of concentration and quality of life values. Overweight and obese children had significantly poorer scores for health-related quality of life, physical well-being, self-esteem, and well-being in friendships. Moreover, physically fit primary schoolers had higher chances to enroll in good secondary schools later on.

“Primary school pupils with good physical fitness and a good ability to concentrate are more likely to make it to secondary grammar schools,” said study co-author Renate Oberhoffer-Fritz, a professor of Preventive Pediatrics at TUM.

“This means it’s all the more important to encourage motor development in children at an early stage, since this can also have a positive impact on the development of mental fitness. Collaboration among parents, schools, communities, and athletic clubs is very important when it comes to creating a comprehensive and appropriate range of possibilities.”   

An important outcome of this study is that, since 2019, the Berchtesgadener Land District Administration Office has been giving all first-grade pupils in the area a voucher for a one-year membership in a sports club. “This is a great example for how different stakeholders can work together and help motivate children to be more athletically active,” concluded study senior author Thorsten Schulz, a professor of Preventive Pediatrics at TUM.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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