Children that exercise are likely to get better grades at school than those that don’t according to a review carried out in Holland. The review was undertaken amid fears that the pressure on schools and pupils to achieve high academic grades could reduce the emphasis on physical education and school sports, which would then actually have a negative impact on children’s academic performance as well as on their overall health.
Study Shows a Positive Relationship between Physical Activity and Academic Performance
The review, which was undertaken at the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research and Vrije University in Holland, and which was published in the medical journal the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, took into account the results of fourteen previous studies from the U.S, Canada, and South Africa. The studies involved children between the ages of six and eighteen, and one study alone involved more than 12,000 children.
Although these individual studies were all quite varied in the data they recorded, the ages of the children, the follow-up period, and the way they classified physical activity, it was quite clear that when their results were combined there was “strong evidence of a positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance“. The researchers were keen to show that increasing school grades didn’t need to mean more time in the classroom and less on the playing fields.
How Exercise Improves Academic Performance
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that exercise and general physical activity can have a positive impact on mood and brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain, and therefore the levels of oxygen available to brain cells. It is thought that this could explain the link between exercise and increased academic performance. Researchers also suggested that exercise could reduce stress and increase concentration, improving behavior in the classroom. Dr Amika Singh, author of the study, believes that “Children who learn to participate in sport also learn to obey rules. This may mean they are more disciplined and able to concentrate better during lessons.”
The overriding message is that sports, physical education, and general exercise should not be pushed aside in favor of more hours of academic study, as this is likely to reduce performance rather than improve it, although the researchers are keen to point out that more research would be needed to determine exactly how much physical activity would be necessary to see an improvement in school grades.
Positive Ways to Increase Your Children’s Activity Levels
For parents it is crucial to help your children achieve a balance between schoolwork, sedentary activities such and television and video games, and exercise, not only to maintain their performance at school but for the sake of their overall physical and mental health. Here are some positive ways you can increase your children’s activity levels:
- Encourage them to take part in school team sports and classes if this is not already compulsory
- Require they swap half an hour of TV or video game time each evening with a physical activity such as running
- Make time for physical activity as a family, such as a long walk or a bike ride during the weekend
- Sign children up for swimming lessons to provide full body exercise and help them gain added confidence and feelings of mastery
About the Author
Caroline Petvin is a professional writer and researcher, and a graduate of the University of Manchester, England. A mother of two, Caroline is committed to raising awareness of natural alternatives to medical treatments. She runs Lisa Janse Copywriting www.websitecopywriting.org