Document Type : Research Article (s)


1 Exercise and Sport Physiology Unit, Faculty of Sciences, University of Douala, Cameroon

2 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, Yaounde, Cameroon

3 Department of Applied Biology of Sports and Physical Education, National Institute of Youth and Sports, Yaounde, Cameroon

4 Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon

5 Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation Laboratory, Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Picardie Jules Vernes, Cedex, Amiens, France


Background: Academic success in Cameroon is more focused on the pedagogical aspects of classical subjects such as mathematics and English. Physical and sports education is only a recreational activity in the Cameroonian school context. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness and motor skills) and academic
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a total of 643 pupils with a mean age of 12.4±1.3 years were included. The cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2pic) was measured using the 20 m shuttle run test. Motor skills (e.g. speed and agility) were assessed with 4x10 m shuttle test. The students ‘academic performance in trimestral average, science and literacy was evaluated based on school records.
Results: Boys had significantly higher anthropometrics (height and weight) and performance parameters (VO2pic and duration). As far as teaching disciplines are concerned, significant differences also existed between the genders. There was no significant association in terms of VO2pic and literacy (r=0.017; P=0.6625), english (r=0.052; P=0.1879), and mathematics (r=0.070; P=0.0767) subjects. However, in science (r=0.080; P=0.0418) and trimestral average (r=0.087; P=0.0273) subjects, a significant association with VO2pic was found. Besides, significant relationships were observed between the duration of the physical and sport education activity and the academic performance. Higher VO2pic values were found in younger students (r=0.252;P=0.0001). For all grades, VO2pic decreased with age.
Conclusion: The minor effects of physical fitness on academic performance among young Cameroonian pupils were linked to specific socio-cultural and socio-economic contexts. This study showed the beneficial effects of extra-curricular activities on academic performance.


1. Andersen LB, Sardinha LB, Froberg K, Riddoch CJ, Page AS, Anderssen SA. Fitness, fatness and clustering of cardiovascular risk factors in children from Denmark, Estonia and Portugal: the European Youth Heart Study. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2008; 3(1):58–66. doi: 10.1080/17477160801896366. PubMed PMID: 18278634. ## 2. Anderssen SA, Cooper AR, Riddoch C, Sardinha LB, Harro M, Brage S, et al. Low cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong predictor for clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors in children independent of country, age and sex. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2007; 14 (4):526–31. doi: 10.1097/HJR.0b013e328011efc1. PubMed PMID: 17667643. ## 3. Janssen I, LeBlanc AG. Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010;7:40. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-7-40. PubMed PMID: 20459784; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2885312. ## 4. Biddle SJH, Asare M. Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: a review of reviews. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45 (11):886-95. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-090185. PubMed PMID: 21807669. ## 5. Ruiz JR, Cavero-Redondo I, Ortega FB, Welk GJ, Andersen LB, Martinez-Vizcaino V. Cardiorespiratory fitness cut points to avoid cardiovascular disease risk in children and adolescents; what level of fitness should raise a red flag? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2016; 50 (23):1451-1458. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095903. PubMed PMID: 27670254. ## 6. Singh AS, Saliasi E, Van den Berg V, Uijtdewilligen L, de Groot RHM, Jolles J. et al. Effects of physical activity interventions on cognitive and academic performance in children and adolescents: a novel combination of a systematic review and recommendations from an expert panel. Br J Sports Med. 2019;53 (10):640-647. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-098136. PubMed PMID: 30061304. ## 7. Esteban-Cornejo I, Tejero-González CM, Martinez-Gomez D, del-Campo J, González-Galo A, Padilla-Moledo C, et al. Independent and combined influence of the components of physical fitness on academic performance in youth. J Pediatr. 2014;165(2):306-312.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.04.044. PubMed PMID: 24952710. ## 8. Gil-Espinosa FJ, Cadenas-Sanchez C, Chillón P. Physical fitness predicts the academic achievement over one-school year follow-up period in adolescents. J Sports Sci. 2019;37(4):452-457. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1505184. PubMed PMID: 30084752. ## 9. Nalova EM. School Type and Mathematics Achievement in English-Speaking Primary Schools in Cameroon: Implications for Technological Development. American Journal of Educational Research. 2017; 5(5):568-573. doi: 10.12691/education-5-5-15. ## 10. Yakum IM, Kifem FL. Education and Earnings Inequality in Cameroon. American Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Research. 2018: (2):1-11. ## 11. Wamba, PC, Enyong Oben J, Cianflone K. Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and thinness in Cameroon urban children and adolescents. J Obes. 2013;2013:737592. doi: 10.1155/2013/737592. PubMed PMID: 23862056; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3703727. ## 12. Navti LK, Ferrari U, Tange E, Parhofer KG, Pozza SB, Parhofer KG. Contribution of socioeconomic status, stature and birth weight to obesity in Sub-Saharan Africa: cross-sectional data from primary school-age children in Cameroon. BMC Public Health. 2014;14:320. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-320. ## 13. Navti LK, Ferrari U, Tange E, Parhofer KG, Pozza SB. Height-obesity relationship in school children in Sub-Saharan Africa: results of a cross-sectional study in Cameroon. BMC Res Notes. 2015;8:98. doi: 10.1186/s13104-015-1073-4. ## 14. Navti LK, Atanga MB, Niba LL. Associations of out of school physical activity, sedentary lifestyle and socioeconomic status with weight status and adiposity of Cameroon children. BMC Obes. 2017;4:35. doi: 10.1186/s40608-017-0171-3. ## 15. Choukem SP, Kamdeu-Chedeu J, Leary SD, Mboue-Djieka Y, Nebongo DN, Akazong C, et al. Overweight and obesity in children aged 3–13 years in urban Cameroon: a cross sectional study of prevalence and association with socio-economic status. BMC Obes. 2017;4:7. doi: 10.1186/s40608-017-0146-4. ## 16. Mekoulou Ndongo, J, Assomo Ndemba, PB, Temfemo, A, DzudieTamdja, A, Abanda, MH, Bika Lele, et al. Pre- and post-exercise electrocardiogram pattern modifications in apparently healthy school adolescents in Cameroon. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2017;31(6). doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2017-0071. ## 17. Bika Lele EC, Pepouomi MN, Temfemo A, Mekoulou J, Assomo Ndemba P, Mandengue SH. Effet d’un effort intermittent d’intensité variable sur la variation du QT et du risque de mort subite chez des élèves camerounais. Ann Cardiol Angeiol. 2018; 67 (1): 48-53. Doi : 10.1016/j.ancard.2017.03.003. ## 18. Leger LA, Mercier D, Gadoury C, Lambert J. The multistage 20 metre shuttle run test for aerobic fitness. J Sports Sci. 1988;6(2):93-101. doi:10.1080/02640418808729800. PubMed PMID: 3184250. ## 19. Marques A, Santos DA, Hillman CH, Sardinha LB. How does academic achievement relate to cardiorespiratory fitness, self-reported physical activity and objectively reported physical activity: a systematic review in children and adolescents aged 6-18 years. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52 (16):1039. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097361. PubMed PMID: 29032365. ## 20. Swain RA, Harris AB, Wiener EC, Dutka MV, Morris HD, Heien ET. Prolonged exercise induces angiogenesis and increases cerebral blood volume in primary motor cortex of the rat. Neuroscience.2003;117(4):1037-46. doi:10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00664-4. PubMed PMID: 12654355. ## 21. Fraisl P, Mazzone M, Schmidt T, Carmeliet P. Regulation of angiogenesis by oxygen and metabolism. Dev Cell. 2009;16 (2):167-79. doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2009.01.003. PubMed PMID: 19217420. ## 22. Zimna A, Kurpisz M. Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 in Physiological and Pathophysiological Angiogenesis: Applications and Therapies. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:549412. doi: 10.1155/2015/549412. PubMed PMID: 26146622; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4471260. ## 23. Rossi Dare L, Garcia A, Alves N, Ventura Dias D, de Souza MA, Mello-Carpes PB. Physical and cognitive training are able to prevent recognition memory deficits related to amyloid beta neurotoxicity. Behav Brain Res. 2019;365:190-197. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.03.007. PubMed PMID: 30844418. ## 24. Enette L, Vogel T, Merle S, Valard-Guiguet AG, Ozier-Lafontaine N, Neviere R. Effect of 9 weeks continuous vs. interval aerobic training on plasma BDNF levels, aerobic fitness, cognitive capacity and quality of life among seniors with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized controlled trial. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2020;17:2. doi: 10.1186/s11556-019-0234-1. PubMed PMID: 31921371; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6945614. ## 25. Pontifex MB, Raine LB, Johnson CR, Chaddock L, Voss MW, Cohen NJ. et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness and the flexible modulation of cognitive control in preadolescent children. J Cogn Neurosci. 2011;23 (6):1332-45. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21528. PubMed PMID: 20521857. ## 26. Chaddock L, Erickson KI, Prakash RS, Kim JS, Voss MW, Van Patter M, et al. A neuroimaging investigation of the association betweenaerobic fitness, hippocampal volume, and memory performance in preadolescent children. Brain Res. 2010; 1358: 172–183. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.08.049. PubMed PMID: 20735996; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3953557. ## 27. Diamond A. Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. Child Dev. 2000;71 (1):44-56. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00117. PubMed PMID: 10836557. ## 28. Abdurrahman A. Socioeconomic status, physical fitness, self-concept, attitude toward physical education, and academic achievement of children. Percept Mot Skills. 2010 110 (2):531-46. doi: 10.2466/PMS.110.2.531-546. PubMed PMID: 20499564. ## 29. de Greeff JW, Hartman E, Mullender-Wijnsma MJ, Bosker RJ, Doolaard S, Visscher C. Physical fitness and academic performance in primary school children with and without a social disadvantage. Health Educ Res. 2014 ; 29 (5) : 853–860. doi: 10.1093/her/cyu043. PubMed PMID: 25092881. ## 30. Toru I, Noriteru M, Toshihiro N, Koichi O, Koji Y, Masato S. Direct and indirect relationships of physical fitness, weight status, and learning duration to academic performance in Japanese schoolchildren. Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 ; 18 (2):286-294.doi:10.1080/17461391.2017.1409273. PubMed PMID: 29220310. ## 31. Read T. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? The Affordable and Sustainable Provision of Learning and Teaching Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank Group. 2015. doi : 10.1596/978-1-4648-0572-1. ## 32. Maslow A. A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review. 1943 ; 50 (4) : 370-396. doi :10.1037/h0054346. ## 33. Ardoy DN, Fernandez-Rodriguez JM, Jimenez-Pavon D, Castillo R, Ruiz JR, Ortega FB. A physical education trial improves adolescents cognitive performance and academic achievement: the EDUFIT study. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014;24 (1):e52-61. doi: 10.1111/sms.12093. PubMed PMID: 23826633. ## 34. Sleiman SF, Henry J, Al-Haddad R, El Hayek L, Abou Haidar E, Stringer T. Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate. eLife. 2016; 5: e15092. doi: 10.7554/eLife.15092. PubMed PMID: 27253067; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4915811. ## 35. Ramos-Sepulveda JA, Ramerez-velez R, Correa-Bautista JE, Izquierdo M, Garcia-Hermoso A. Physical fitness and anthropometric normative values among colombian-indian schoolchildren. BMC Public Health. 2016;16:962. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3652-2. PubMed PMID: 27619491; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5020445. ## 36. Paludo AC, Bastista MB, Junior HS, Cyrino ES, Vaz Rongue ER. (2012). Estimation of cardiorespiratory fitness in adolescents with the 9-minute run/walk test. Revista Brasileira Cineantropometria e Desempenho Humano. 2012; 14(4):401-408. ## 37. Grissom BJ. Physical fitness and academic achievement. JEP online. 2005; 8:11-25. ##