Background- Several studies revealed the positive effects of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity on student performance and academic achievement. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a specific physical activity program on academic performance among children aged 9 to 14 in the Lebanese schools.
Methods: Participants were eligible if they did not participate in any sports activity during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the first semester of the academic year 2020 – 2021 and were able to complete a three-month PA program at the BH CLUB-KYOKUSHIN JAMMAL academy with no psychological or physical limitations. A well-trained physical coach established a PA program consisting of karate and general fitness exercises for three months, three times per week, one hour per session. Academic performance was measured using the official marks from three core academic classes at each school, as well as the overall GPA.
Results: Out of 250 eligible children, only 60 students, 47 males, and 13 females, with a mean age of 11.7 ± 1.68 years old, participated in the study. All scores for all participants from both genders improved significantly (p<0.05) with exception of the mathematics and science scores of the females. Furthermore, no significant gender differences were observed in any of the variables with p-value>0.05 and a size effect of Cohen’s d<0.219.
Conclusion: PA had a significant impact on academic achievement in children aged 9 to 14 years old, and it may help to offset the unavoidable negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, Lebanon's parents and schools should prioritize PA for their children.