Sedentary behavior and not physical activity predicts study progress in distance education

Hieronymus J. M. Gijselaers*, Paul A. Kirschner, Peter Verboon, Renate H. M. de Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

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Previous research has shown that physical activity and sedentary behavior are related to learning performance in traditional education. In distance education (DE), however, students are characterized by different features (e.g., age and responsibilities). As a result, DE students often have full schedules and must make choices that traditional students do not. Advice on behavior change is low-cost and easy to implement Therefore, it is of interest to investigate whether physical activity and sedentary behavior are related to learning performance in DE. In an observational longitudinal study, physical activity and sedentary behavior of 1100 adult DE students were analyzed using multiple regression analysis. Students provided information on physical activity, sedentary behavior and important covariates at the start of their study. Learning performance, measured as study progress, was evaluated after 14 months (i.e., the number of successfully completed modules). Analyses revealed that only sedentary behavior was a significant predictor for study progress. More sedentary behavior was predictive for more learning performance in adults participating in DE. Despite these findings, it is not recommended that students should be more sedentary as health/cognitive benefits following from more physical activity and less sedentary behavior are proven. Instead, future research should focus on which specific sedentary behaviors are responsible for this relation as sedentary behaviors may be differentially associated with learning performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-229
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Learning performance
  • Distance learning
  • Online learning
  • The ALOUD study

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