*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.
Determining a child’s best daily balance of sleep, activity, and relaxation can be a challenge, but if you’re hoping to improve their academic results, then it’s time to cut back on chores and chill time, according to new research from the University of South Australia.
Exploring associations between 24-hour daily activities (sleep, sedentary time, light physical activity, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) and academic achievement, the study found that the less time children spent in light physical activity, the better their academic outcomes.
Specifically, researchers found that lower light physical activity is related to better numeracy and literacy and that higher sedentary time is related to better literacy.
NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow, UniSA’s Dr. Dot Dumuid says the findings highlight how light physical activity can drain time from other movement behaviors at the detriment of academic achievement.
“When we talk about what makes up a child’s best day for academic achievement, we have to consider all the different elements of that day — sleep, exercise, activity, rest and play — but of course, within the boundaries of 24 hours,” Dr. Dumuid says.
“If a child is spending more time in light physical activity — doing chores, playing computer, or just puttering around — then they have less time for sleep, study and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, all of which are good for academic achievement.
The study assessed 528 year-5 children (age 9-11 years) from the multinational cross-sectional ISCOLE study, and 1874 children (age 11-12 years) from the CheckPoint phase of the Growing Up in Australia study, with movement behaviors collected via 7-day accelerometry, and academic achievement tested across literacy and numeracy skills as determined by NAPLAN.
Light physical activity incorporated tasks such as doing chores, sitting at the computer, playing video games, preparing or eating food, and general puttering around.
The results were consistent across Australian samples, different age groups, different academic standards, and achieved with different accelerometers, indicating the robustness of the study.