Study: Exercise Can Boost Latino Students’ Fitness, Math Scores


Share On Social!

Editor’s Note: This is a 20-part series featuring new research briefs on Latino childhood obesity, nutrition, physical activity and more by the 20 grantees of Salud America! Part 18 is Dr. Zan Gao. Find all briefs here.

Dr. Zan Gao

Dr. Zan Gao
“Impact of Physical Activity on Fitness & Academic Performance”

In his Salud America! pilot research project, Dr. Zan Gao of Texas Tech University examined the impact of a structured exercise program (interactive video game Dance Dance Revolution [DDR], in which players stomp on a dance mat to mimic steps of an on-screen dancer; aerobic dance; and jump rope) on physical fitness and academic performance in urban Latino children.

Key preliminary findings include:

  • children who participate in a structured exercise program at school are more likely to improve their 1-mile run performance and math scores over time; and
  • interviews revealed that students believed the DDR intervention program benefited their physical fitness and academic performance.

Results suggest that implementing a structured school-based exercise program could significantly improve 1-mile run performance and math grades over time among urban Latino children. Such findings provide preliminary empirical support for using interactive dance-based exercise to improve children’s cardiovascular fitness and academic performance.

These findings can aid academics and schools as they aim to alleviate achievement gaps that are common in underserved Latino communities.

Read more here.

Salud America! is an RWJF national program directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino kids have obesity (compared to 11.7% of white kids)

Share your thoughts