Relationship between motor and cognitive learning abilities among primary school-aged children
Background: The relationship between motor and cognitive development has already been proven in young children. However, in relation to the academic achievement the association between motor and cognitive performance still not well established. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the levels of motor and cognitive learning abilities and their independent and combined associations among German primary school-children.
Methods: Participants were (n = 197) between the ages of six to eight. The German motor test (DMT), the cognitive abilities test (KFT), height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) were measured.
Results: ANOVA testing found that boys perform better in long jumping and in the six minutes running test while girls perform better in balancing backwards and in deductive thinking test (p < 0.05). With maturation from ages six to eight the achievement level of both populations showed a higher performance in motor and cognitive learning abilities (p < 0.001). Concerning the combined and independent associations between the tested abilities, a significant correlation was shown between total motor and total cognitive learning abilities (p < 0.001, r = 0.60) with higher contribution of balancing backwards, six minutes running and push-up levels (r = 0.63, r = 0.62, r = 0.60, respectively) in the performance of the cognitive learning abilities (i.e. mathematical thinking, r = 0.62 and language understanding, r = 0.59).
Conclusions: In conclusion, fostering the childrens’ physical fitness during the primary school age could enhance both motor and cognitive learning abilities related to the academic achievement.