The following table shows the percentages of people, by race and sex, who consider the adjective "athletic" either a good or very good descriptor of themselves:
Sometimes posts require no bloviating beyond the blog's tagline, and this is one of those posts. Color me loquacious though, because I'd still like to say a few words anyway.
Black men easily come out on top, followed by white guys, with Hispanics closely trailing them. This comes as little surprise to anyone who has played sports with blacks at a competitive level. They move quicker and jump higher, although the perception of black men as physically stronger than white men seems in my experience to be more of a conflation of general athleticism with upper body strength than an accurate reading of reality.
Men are more athletic than women are, except for Asians, where there is gender parity. Asian men are notorious for being bad at sports, tending to small and neither strong nor fast. I'm not aware of that stereotype existing for Asian girls, though I'm not aware of any particular Asian female prowess for athletics, either. The sample sizes for Asians are small (51 men, 49 women), so they should just be taken as suggestive in any case.
The rates of athleticism are even among white and black females, which probably has to do with corpulence among black women, who actually tend to have wider waists than black men do (among all other races, male waist size is larger).
I've played lots of soccer with Mexican men who are serious about the game (although the average Mexican guy doesn't seem to be particularly good at it--in the league games I've played, it's almost always the all white team I'm on against a team of likely illegal immigrants who speak broken English at best, and we always crush them), but the women who are there watching look to be in especially poor shape, with oozing tortilla flabbiness in abundance.
A few months back, a study was released suggesting that exercise may improve brain functioning. The implication that this is a formula for raising test scores and closing the achievement gap (more recess time for NAMs?) is standard blather from those antagonistic towards cognitive realism, but in my own personal experience, it is modestly beneficial. Specifically, my ability to focus is enhanced after I've worked out (unfortunately, I have to balance this with the realization that I simply don't lift as well and am more prone to tweaking in the mornings, especially within the first couple hours of waking up, so I generally do cardio in the morning and lift when I get home in the evenings).
Without any speculation on which way the causality arrow points, if there is an arrow at all, the percentages of people who describe themselves as athletic by intelligence follows. Respondents are divided into five groups forming a roughly normal distribution by wordsum score; Really Smarts (score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%). To avoid the confounding factor of race, with blacks potentially skewing the correlation between athleticism and intelligence in an inverse direction, only whites are included. In a similar vein, only those 40 and under are considered, to avoid confounding from the elderly who may have considered themselves athletic in the past but no longer do so and who've also had a lifetime to stumble upon the definitions of various words:
To the extent that there is a relationship, it does indeed appear to be slightly inverse (although not statistically significant). It is conceivable that people who don't have a lot upstairs are more likely to emphasize their physical abilities. It's also possible that athleticism and intelligence are unrelated. If this is the case, the fact that professional athletes tend to be more intelligent than the population at large (when race is taken into account) is presumably the result of higher IQ leading to better nutrition, more discipline in working out and mastering positions played, etc.
GSS variables used: ATHLETIC, SEX(1)(2), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), INTRWGHT