Physical Activity and School
by Mommy MD Guide Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH
If you want to help your child improve her grades, encouraging her to stay physically active might be just as important as encouraging her to hit the books. A recent analysis of 14 separate studies showed a positive connection between children’s levels of physical activity and their academic performance, according to a report published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
As pressure to achieve higher standardized test scores continues to mount in the United States., many schools are cutting back on the amount of time students spend at recess and in physical education classes. The study authors reported finding strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance.
Exercise is good for the brain at virtually any age, improving its ability to think clearly, learn, and remember. Physical activity has been shown to improve cognition by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, allowing it to function optimally. It also boosts levels of neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, to help the brain and body cope with the negative effects of stress, and increases the production of biological growth factors that support the growth of new nerve cells and enhances communication among them.
If your child isn’t getting enough physical activity at school, make sure she has an opportunity to run and play at home. Regular exercise will undoubtedly boost her overall health, and it might even boost her grades.
Another study, conducted a few years ago found that physically fit kids scored better on standardized math and English tests than their less fit peers.
Results of the study show that there is a significant relationship between students’ academic achievement and physical fitness. The odds of passing both standardized math and English tests increased as the number of fitness tests passed increased, even when controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status.
The researchers encourage families to make time for physical activity because it has far-reaching benefits–for health and also for academic success.