How well children perform in the classroom could be linked to how physically active they are, suggests a Dutch review of previous studies.
Writing in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers said they found strong evidence of a link between exercise and academic performance.
The review looked at 14 studies involving more than 12,000 children.
Exercise may help by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain, it said.
But the authors of the study, from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said more accurate and reliable measurement instruments were needed to examine the link in greater detail.
Dr Amika Singh and colleagues were prompted to look at the relationship between physical activity and academic performance because of concerns that pressure to improve children’s school marks could mean they spend more time in the classroom and less time doing physical activity.
So the authors identified 10 observational and four interventional studies for review.
Twelve of the studies were conducted in the United States, one in Canada and one in South Africa.
Sample sizes ranged from 53 to about 12,000 participants between the ages of six and 18 years.
The period of follow-up varied between eight weeks and more than five years.
Two of the studies reviewed were rated as being of high quality, the study says.