Document Type : original article


1 Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Public Health, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education, University of Arts and Sciences, Beirut, Lebanon

2 Health Rehabilitation Integration Research Center, Beirut, Lebanon Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Public Health, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon

3 Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education, University of Sciences and Arts in Lebanon, Beirut, Lebanon

4 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Rehabilitation, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: several studies have 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 sport 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 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.


  1. Mobbs, D., Hagan, C. C., Dalgleish, T., Silston, B., & Prévost, C. (2015). The ecology of human fear: Survival optimization and the nervous system. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 9, 55.
  2. History of Fitness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2021, from
  3. Malm, C., Jakobsson, J., & Isaksson, A. (2019). Physical Activity and Sports - Real Health Benefits: A Review with Insight into the Public Health of Sweden. Sports, 7(5), 127.
  4. Teixeira, P. J., Carraça, E. V., Markland, D., Silva, M. N., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 78.
  5. Daryl, S. (2009). Introduction to Physical Education, Fitness, and Sport by Daryl Siedentop Goodreads (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
  6. Biddle, S. J. H., & Asare, M. (2011). Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: A review of reviews. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(11), 886–895.
  7. Harold W. Kohl, I. I. I., Cook, H. D., Environment, C. on P. A. and P. E. in the S., Board, F. and N., & Medicine, I. of. (2013). Approaches to Physical Education in Schools. In Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. National Academies Press (US).
  8. Booth, J. N., Leary, S. D., Joinson, C., Ness, A. R., Tomporowski, P. D., Boyle, J. M., & Reilly, J. J. (2014). Associations between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents from a UK cohort. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(3), 265–270.
  9. Kwak, L., Kremers, S. P. J., Bergman, P., Ruiz, J. R., Rizzo, N. S., & Sjöström, M. (2009). Associations between Physical Activity, Fitness, and Academic Achievement. The Journal of Pediatrics, 155(6), 914-918.e1.
  10. Maher, C., Lewis, L., Katzmarzyk, P. T., Dumuid, D., Cassidy, L., & Olds, T. (2016). The associations between physical activity, sedentary behavior and academic performance. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 19(12), 1004–1009.
  11. Sneck, S., Viholainen, H., Syväoja, H., Kankaanpää, A., Hakonen, H., Poikkeus, A.-M., & Tammelin, T. (2019). Effects of school-based physical activity on mathematics performance in children: A systematic review. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16, 109.
  12. Solberg, R. B., Steene-Johannessen, J., Anderssen, S. A., Ekelund, U., Säfvenbom, R., Haugen, T., Berntsen, S., Åvitsland, A., Lerum, Ø., Resaland, G. K., & Kolle, E. (2021). Effects of a school-based physical activity intervention on academic performance in 14-year old adolescents: A cluster randomized controlled trial – the School in Motion study. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 871.
  13. Singh, A. S., Saliasi, E., Berg, V. van den, Uijtdewilligen, L., Groot, R. H. M. de, Jolles, J., Andersen, L. B., Bailey, R., Chang, Y.-K., Diamond, A., Ericsson, I., Etnier, J. L., Fedewa, A. L., Hillman, C. H., McMorris, T., Pesce, C., Pühse, U., Tomporowski, P. D., & Chinapaw, M. J. M. (2019). Effects of physical activity interventions on cognitive and academic performance in children and adolescents: A novel combination of a systematic review and recommendations from an expert panel. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(10), 640–647.
  14. Donnelly, J. E., Greene, J. L., Gibson, C. A., Smith, B. K., Washburn, R. A., Sullivan, D. K., DuBose, K., Mayo, M. S., Schmelzle, K. H., Ryan, J. J., Jacobsen, D. J., & Williams, S. L. (2009). Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC): A randomized controlled trial to promote physical activity and diminish overweight and obesity in elementary school children. Preventive Medicine, 49(4), 336–341.
  15. Lubans, D. R., Beauchamp, M. R., Diallo, T. M. O., Peralta, L. R., Bennie, A., White, R. L., Owen, K., & Lonsdale, C. (2018). School physical activity intervention effect on adolescents’ performance in mathematics.
  16. Mullender-Wijnsma, M. J., Hartman, E., Greeff, J. W. de, Doolaard, S., Bosker, R. J., & Visscher, C. (2016). Physically Active Math and Language Lessons Improve Academic Achievement: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics, 137(3).
  17. Padulo, J., Bragazzi, N. L., De Giorgio, A., Grgantov, Z., Prato, S., & Ardigò, L. P. (2019). The Effect of Physical Activity on Cognitive Performance in an Italian Elementary School: Insights from a Pilot Study Using Structural Equation Modeling. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 202.
  18. Nelson, M. C., & Gordon-Larsen, P. (2006). Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Patterns Are Associated With Selected Adolescent Health Risk Behaviors. Pediatrics, 117(4), 1281–1290.
  19. Field, T., Diego, M., & Sanders, C. E. (2001). EXERCISE IS POSITIVELY RELATED TO ADOLESCENTS’ RELATIONSHIPS AND ACADEMICS. Adolescence, 36(141), 105–105.
  20. Landry, B. W., & Driscoll, S. W. (2012). Physical Activity in Children and Adolescents. PM&R, 4(11), 826–832.
  21. Beck, M. M., Lind, R. R., Geertsen, S. S., Ritz, C., Lundbye-Jensen, J., & Wienecke, J. (2016). Motor-Enriched Learning Activities Can Improve Mathematical Performance in Preadolescent Children. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 645.
  22. Howie, E. K., Schatz, J., & Pate, R. R. (2015). Acute Effects of Classroom Exercise Breaks on Executive Function and Math Performance: A Dose–Response Study. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 86(3), 217–224.
  23. Palmer, K. K., Miller, M. W., & Robinson, L. E. (2013). Acute Exercise Enhances Preschoolers’ Ability to Sustain Attention. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 35(4), 433–437.

Veronese, N., Facchini, S., Stubbs, B., Luchini, C., Solmi, M., Manzato, E., Sergi, G., Maggi, S., Cosco, T., & Fontana, L. (2017). Weight loss is associated with improvements in cognitive function among overweight and obese people: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 72, 87–94.

  1. Thomas, A. G., Dennis, A., Rawlings, N. B., Stagg, C. J., Matthews, L., Morris, M., Kolind, S. H., Foxley, S., Jenkinson, M., Nichols, T. E., Dawes, H., Bandettini, P. A., & Johansen-Berg, H. (2016). Multi-modal characterization of rapid anterior hippocampal volume increase associated with aerobic exercise. NeuroImage, 131, 162–170.
  2. Chaddock-Heyman, L., Erickson, K., Voss, M., Knecht, A., Pontifex, M., Castelli, D., Hillman, C., & Kramer, A. (2013). The effects of physical activity on functional MRI activation associated with cognitive control in children: A randomized controlled intervention. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 72.
  3. Oberlin, L. E., Verstynen, T. D., Burzynska, A. Z., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Chaddock-Heyman, L., Wong, C., Fanning, J., Awick, E., Gothe, N., Phillips, S. M., Mailey, E., Ehlers, D., Olson, E., Wojcicki, T., McAuley, E., Kramer, A. F., & Erickson, K. I. (2016). White matter microstructure mediates the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and spatial working memory in older adults. NeuroImage, 131, 91–101.
  4. Cotman, C. W., Berchtold, N. C., & Christie, L.-A. (2007). Exercise builds brain health: Key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Trends in Neurosciences, 30(9), 464–472.
  5. De Giorgio, A. (2017). The roles of motor activity and environmental enrichment in intellectual disability. Somatosensory & Motor Research, 34(1), 34–43.
  6. Skriver, K., Roig, M., Lundbye-Jensen, J., Pingel, J., Helge, J. W., Kiens, B., & Nielsen, J. B. (2014). Acute exercise improves motor memory: Exploring potential biomarkers. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 116, 46–58.
  7. Donnelly, J. E., Hillman, C. H., Greene, J. L., Hansen, D. M., Gibson, C. A., Sullivan, D. K., Poggio, J., Mayo, M. S., Lambourne, K., Szabo-Reed, A. N., Herrmann, S. D., Honas, J. J., Scudder, M. R., Betts, J. L., Henley, K., Hunt, S. L., & Washburn, R. A. (2017). Physical activity and academic achievement across the curriculum: Results from a 3-year cluster-randomized trial. Preventive Medicine, 99, 140–145.
  8. Resaland, G. K., Aadland, E., Moe, V. F., Aadland, K. N., Skrede, T., Stavnsbo, M., Suominen, L., Steene-Johannessen, J., Glosvik, Ø., Andersen, J. R., Kvalheim, O. M., Engelsrud, G., Andersen, L. B., Holme, I. M., Ommundsen, Y., Kriemler, S., van Mechelen, W., McKay, H. A., Ekelund, U., & Anderssen, S. A. (2016). Effects of physical activity on schoolchildren’s academic performance: The Active Smarter Kids (ASK) cluster-randomized controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 91, 322–328.
  9. Tarp, J., Domazet, S. L., Froberg, K., Hillman, C. H., Andersen, L. B., & Bugge, A. (2016). Effectiveness of a School-Based Physical Activity Intervention on Cognitive Performance in Danish Adolescents: LCoMotion—Learning, Cognition and Motion – A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. PLOS ONE, 11(6), e0158087.
  10. Trost, S. G. (2007). Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance.
  11. Trudeau, F., & Shephard, R. J. (2008). Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5(1), 10.
  12. Lindner, K. J. (2002). The Physical Activity Participation–Academic Performance Relationship Revisited: Perceived and Actual Performance and the Effect of Banding (Academic Tracking). Pediatric Exercise Science, 14(2), 155–169.
  13. Tremblay, M. S., Inman, J. W., & Willms, J. D. (2000). The Relationship between Physical Activity, Self-Esteem, and Academic Achievement in 12-Year-Old Children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12(3), 312–323.
  14. Rasberry, C. N., Lee, S. M., Robin, L., Laris, B. A., Russell, L. A., Coyle, K. K., & Nihiser, A. J. (2011). The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance: A systematic review of the literature. Preventive Medicine, 52, S10–S20.
  15. Wilkins, J., Graham, G., Parker, S., Westfall, S., Fraser, R., & Tembo, M. (2003). Time in the arts and physical education and school achievement. J. CURRICULUM STUDIES, 35, 721–734.
  16. Coleman, J. S. (1961). The adolescent society (pp. xvi, 368). Free Press of Glencoe.
  17. Coatsworth, J., & Conroy, D. (2007). Youth sport as a component of organized after school programs. New Directions for Youth Development, 2007, 57–74, 7.
  18. Giusti, L., Mammarella, S., Salza, A., Del Vecchio, S., Ussorio, D., Casacchia, M., & Roncone, R. (2021). Predictors of academic performance during the covid-19 outbreak: Impact of distance education on mental health, social cognition and memory abilities in an Italian university student sample. BMC Psychology, 9(1), 142.