Keeping fit could damage your IQ

30th March 2001 at 01:00
Healthy bodies, healthy minds ... well, maybe not. Amanda Kelly reports from the centenary conference of the British Psychological Society in Glasgow

ENCOURAGING youngsters to strive for the physical prowess of England football hero David Beckham may improve their health, but it is unlikely to help their exam results, according to a new study.

Researchers at Queens University, Belfast, spent two years exploring the relationship between a child's fitness and their intellectual ability, and discovered that not many excelled at both. The youngsters who had few problems pedalling away on an exercise bike for 12 minutes generally scored lower on a standard IQ test.

Dr Andrew Thompson and Dr Barbara McConnell, measured the height, weight, body mass index, fitness and IQ of 250 12-year-olds from the Belfast area.

The results revealed that the fitter the children were, the less well they did in the IQ test. Tis was regardless of their socio-economic status, gender or if they had a few spare inches around the waist or thighs.

Dr Andrew Thompson said: "It was just something we had noticed in our day-to-day experience and wanted to put it to the test. David Beckham, for example, is clearly an extremely talented sportsman and very fit, but he doesn't seem terribly academic.

"What we still do not know is whether the fitter, less intelligent youngsters were that way because they have been failing academically and therefore decided to devote themselves to sport and fitness, or was it the other way around?" However, a survey published this week by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, highlighted how a conclusive understanding of the relationship between mind and body has yet to be achieved. Teachers who excelled in sport also outperformed their peers in the classroom.

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