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Active kids perform better in school

Apr 09, 2015
written by: Catherine Cameron
written by: Catherine Cameron
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If your child has trouble sitting still, has difficulty concentrating in class, or isn’t performing as well academically as you think he or she could, consider this: physical activity may help.

A recent review published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine demonstrates a positive relationship between physical activity and improved academic performance.

Researchers suggest this improved performance may be due to the fact physical activity enhances brain function and thinking skills by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain and the triggered release of endorphins.

The studies reviewed consistently suggest that more active children demonstrate greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized academic tests than their less active counterparts.

Though the evidence is compelling, studies have yet to confirm that fitness alone leads to better test scores in children. Other factors, such as a family’s socioeconomic status (and the resulting opportunities for childhood activity and sport participation) must be taken into account.

It does appear however, that additional opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day would enhance a child’s ability to learn. Some ways to do this:

  • Encourage kids to walk or bike to school.
  • Slip a ball or jump rope into your child’s backpack to encourage active play at recess and lunch.
  • Sign your child up for lunchtime and after-school activities and sports.
  • Encourage outdoor play with friends.
  • Advocate for increased activity breaks and physical education classes at school – more schools are allowing children who want to, to stand at their desks.
  • Volunteer your time leading an activity or team sport at your child’s school.
  • Before starting homework, encourage your child to enjoy some active time – something as simple as walking the dog or a rally on the tennis courts is ideal.
  • Be an active role model and be active as a family – go for walks and bike rides, try my 5 KM Running Program for families, or hit your local tennis courts.

I always enjoy hearing from readers – and I can’t say this study surprises me. What about you? Join me on Twitter and share your thoughts @Cate_Cameron and @Tennis_Canada.