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Summer vacation represents a "window of vulnerability" where dramatic declines in both health and academics occur for elementary age children. Currently, there are no summer programs that incorporate curriculum addressing both unhealthy weight gains and academic achievement simultaneously. This work represents an important step towards addressing important public health goals - obesity and learning - through a comprehensive program delivered during a timeframe - summer vacation - where substantial and long-lasting negative effects occur.
Background Increased physical activity can improve cognition and academic skills. However due to economic concerns and increasing focus on standardized testing, PA in schools often receives little attention and physical education is reduced in many countries in favor of spending more time devoted to academic classes. This tendency is not compatible with the increasing evidence for the association between physical activity, fitness, cognitive and academic performance. Despite increasing evidence for the association between PA, fitness, cognitive and academic performance, very few longitudinal high-quality studies exists examining the effect of physical activity on academic performance (ref.). Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge only two studies have assessed academic outcomes following the integration of physical activity into the classroom with intervention participants scoring significantly higher in test sections compared to controls which makes generalizing from these results challenging. To promote policy changes that require more physical activity in school, empirical data are needed to study the effects of school-based physical activity programs. Therefore the investigators carried out a cluster randomized controlled trial conducted to examine the effect on math achievement and executive functions of classroom based PA in math.