According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, children’s increased physical activity can be associated with improved academic performance.
How did researcher Amanda Singh from the VU University in the Netherlands, along with her colleagues, come to this conclusion? They looked at some 14 studies which either took note of physical activity based on school athletic participation, or those which randomly assigned a certain number of hours of exercise to children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), students should have at least one hour of physical activity to stay healthy.
Improved academic performance in these studies was measured based on reported grades, and cognitive test scores from subjects such as Mathematics, history and world studies.
Besides the obvious physical benefits of exercise, early physical fitness also helps promote psychological well being, social development, financial flexibility for the family (less sick days for the child), better coordination, and improved concentration.
Aside from reducing the risk of child obesity, participation in exercise such as sports helps children learn how to follow rules, and acting properly in a social environment, which allows them to get along better with teachers and classmates.
The CDC also notes, "School boards, school administrators and principals can feel confident that maintaining or increasing time dedicated for physical activity during the school day will not have a negative impact on academic performance, and it may positively impact students' academic performance.”
Comments Keith Ayoob, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, "There's an even greater need for physical education now, because the vast majority of children's leisure activities are sedentary and involve technology.”
The researchers do feel that some of these studies may have measured physical activity and academic performance in a rather subjective fashion, as they relied on the memory of children, parents or teachers on the amount of activity the kids got over a period of time.
Other points for consideration include the recommended hour of physical activity to be broken up throughout the day. The multiple sessions of short activity may be more effective than the one-hour single sessions.
You may also want to read:
• January 3, 2012. Alice Park. “Let the Kids Play: They’ll Do Better in School” healthland.time.com
• Larry Hand. “Physical Activity May Improve Kids’ Academic Performance” medscape.com