Physical Inactivity, Physical Fitness, Metabolic Status and Academic Performance Amongst Secondary School Students in Singapore

Project Number
OER 16/09 MC

Project Duration
November 2009 - September 2015


The proposed research is novel and has a strong policy impact potential on the organisation of schools in terms of time devoted to activity and study periods. Associated data are apparently unsecure, scattered and incoherent owing to blunted tools used measure physical activity, inactivity and the absence of metabolic parameters in youth. The links between physical inactivity, metabolic status and academic performance in adolescents are speculative and has not attracted research scrutiny in Singapore. The health and holistic benefits of physical activity are incontestable. Physical activity, physical inactivity and physical fitness are functionally distinct constructs with specific implications on academic performance. This understanding warrants study to provide concrete evidence to for identifying clusters of the youth population at risk and for implementing appropriately targeted intervention programmes to improve and preserve academic performance. Both absolute and relative physical inactivity are a cause for overweight and obesity. One of the serious and long-term consequences of the 'obesogenic' environment is the alteration in the normal metabolic status. Such alterations have their genesis in youth and can culminate to a condition called as the Metabolic Syndrome that includes a cluster of risk factors. Emergent local data suggest that overweight adolescents have poorer cognitive memory than their normal-weight peers. The research aims of the present grant are two-fold- to understand and elucidate the predictors of physical activity and inactivity behaviours, to explain the relationships between markers of metabolic status in young people, physical activity, physical inactivity, physical fitness and academic performance in Singaporean adolescents. A 10-week intervention programme will be incorporated into the research based on the initial research evidence generated to further consolidate the feasibility and efficacy of an enhanced physical activity programme (juxtaposed PRIDE for PLAY, active recess and game-based PE curriculum) that is focused on increasing daily step count. The impact of the proposed research include: (a) Informing policy and practice in PE about why adolescents are physically active or inactivity so that relevant and appropriate targeted intervention may be considered. (b) Informing policy and practice in PE about the descriptions and determinants of physically active and physically inactive clusters among adolescents. (c) Informing policy and practice in PE about the inter-relationships between metabolic syndrome, physical inactivity/physical activity, fitness, cognitive and academic performance. (d) Informing policy and practice about the adequacy of current physical activity guidelines for adolescents in terms of metabolic health. (e) Creating a new knowledge-base of determinants of physical activity and physical inactivity behaviours among Singaporean adolescents. (f) Evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of an enhanced physical activity programme that focused on increasing daily step count. In summary, research has implications for PE and health and its findings have strong policy implications about how school time is organised for the holistic development of adolescents in Singapore.

Research Themes

Funding Source

Related Links
NIE Research Brief Series 13-002: Inactivity Physiology—Staying Still, Singaporean Youths Are Not Moving enough
NIE Research Brief Series 13-004: Inactivity Physiology—the Anthropometric and blood Parameters of Singaporean Youths
SingTeach Issue 55 (Dec 2015): Choosing to be Wise and Healthy

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