Intelligence is considered to be the ability to understand, reason, and make decisions based on a given situation. Neuroeducational advances in recent decades show that physical activity is a key variable for adequate development of intelligence, especially during the complex stage of adolescence. Numerous cross-sectional studies have considered the link between physical activity and intelligence, and the effects on intelligence of longitudinal physical activity intervention programmes have been analysed in several systematic reviews and meta-analyses. However, there have been fewer studies focussing on a more theoretical/epistemological approach and the development of specific practical proposals for didactic interventions within the educational setting. This work aims to show the most relevant scientific results relating to the association between and effects of physical activity on intelligence and it offers didactic guidelines and suggestions for the use of physical activity as a means of cultivating intelligence in a school setting. For this purpose, strategies based on increasing daily physical activity and physical fitness, the comprehensive use of physical education classes, active commuting to school and active school starts, active breaks and recesses, and finally the combined teaching of physically active academic sessions, are shown.

Please, cite this article as follows: Ruiz-Ariza, A., Suárez-Manzano, S., López-Serrano, S., & Martínez-López, E. J. (2021). La actividad física como medio para cultivar la inteligencia en el contexto escolar | Physical activity as means of cultivating intelligence in a school context. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 79 (278), 161-177. 10.22550/REP79-1-2021-03

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Author Biography

Alberto Ruiz-Ariza. International Doctorate in Didactic Innovation and Teacher Training. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Jaén. He has been visiting researcher in various countries, most notably at the Playful Learning Center at the Faculty of Education, Helsinki (Finland). He has published in JCR-Q1 journals in the area of “Education and Educational Research” and in SJR-Q1 in the area of “Education”. He has also won several research prizes.


Sara Suárez-Manzano. Academic Training contract with the Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities. She is currently working on her International Doctorate in Teaching Innovation and Teacher Training. She has been visiting researcher in various countries, most notably at the Faculty of Education, Helsinki (Finland). She has published in JCR-Q1 journals in the area of “Education and Educational Research” and in SJR-Q1 in the area of “Education”. She has made numerous contributions at international conferences and over a dozen book chapters with publishers with the highest level.


Sebastián López-Serrano. International Doctorate in Didactic Innovation and Teacher Training. He has worked as a Teaching Fellow at the Universidad de Jaén. He has been visiting researcher in various countries, most notably at the Escola Superior de Educação, Beja (Portugal). He has published more than a dozen articles in JCR and SJR ranked publications, all of them on subjects related to active methodologies and educational innovation. He has also won various research and scientific-educational outreach prizes.


Emilio J. Martínez-López. Doctor- ate in Physical Education from the Universidad de Granada. Full Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences of the Universidad de Jaén. Director of the AFAES (Physical Activity Applied to Education and Health) research group. Lead researcher on the on-going R&D&I project “Flipped classroom, active homework and Physical Education. Effects on emotional intelligence, acquisition of competences and techno-stress (FCAHPE Study)” funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities (Code: RTI2018-095878-B-100). He has many publications, including several JCR-Q1 and SJR-Q1.


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Palabras clave | Keywords

activebreaks, Cognition, movement, physicalactivity, physicallyactiveclasses