Effects of Resistance Training on Academic Outcomes in School-Aged Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Publication Name

Sports Medicine


Background: The primary aim of our systematic review and meta-analysis was to investigate the effect of resistance training on academic outcomes in school-aged youth. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of six electronic databases (CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, Ovid MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus and EMBASE) with no date restrictions. Studies were eligible if they: (a) included school-aged youth (5–18 years), and (b) examined the effect of resistance training on academic outcomes (i.e., cognitive function, academic achievement, and/or on-task behaviour in the classroom). Risk of bias was assessed using the appropriate Cochrane Risk of Bias Tools, funnel plots and Egger’s regression asymmetry tests. A structural equation modelling approach was used to conduct the meta-analysis. Results: Fifty-three studies were included in our systematic review. Participation in resistance training (ten studies with 53 effect sizes) had a small positive effect on the overall cognitive, academic and on-task behaviours in school-aged youth (standardized mean difference (SMD) 0.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05–0.32). Resistance training was more effective (SMD 0.26, 95% CI 0.10–0.42) than concurrent training, i.e., the combination of resistance training and aerobic training (SMD 0.11, 95% CI − 0.05–0.28). An additional 43 studies (including 211 effect sizes) examined the association between muscular fitness and cognition or academic achievement, also yielding a positive relationship (SMD 0.13, 95% CI 0.10–0.16). Conclusion: This review provides preliminary evidence that resistance training may improve cognitive function, academic performance, and on-task behaviours in school-aged youth. PROSPERO Registration: CRD42020175695.

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Hunter Medical Research Institute



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