Being physically active has many benefits for children and adolescents. It is essential for various aspects of physical and mental health, and also positively influences academic performance and school achievement. In addressing the still incomplete understanding of the link between physical activity (PA) and academic achievement, the present study scrutinized the open issues regarding different roles of PA type and PA duration within the relation between self-reported PA and objectively measured mathematical achievement in fourth graders. As to the type of PA, the current study distinguished between structured and unstructured sports activities children perform in their leisure time. Moreover, the current study investigated the indirect effect of PA on mathematical achievement by controlling for the mathematical self-concept as a mediating variable. Results showed PA to be positively related to mathematical outcomes if implemented in a structured setting and pursued for at least two hours per week. As to the mediation, the results revealed a full mediation, indicating PA to improve mathematical self-concept, which, in turn, positively affected mathematical achievement. Thus, engaging in structured PA for two hours or more a week may have additional benefits for children’s and adolescents’ self-concept in a way that is favorable and encouraging for promoting their academic achievement.
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