We know that physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for kids in particular. Getting exercise is an essential part of building muscles and strong bones, reducing the risk of injury, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting the risk of developing health conditions. These are all important ways that exercise benefits our physical bodies. But exercise can also have a positive impact on how kids think and learn. So, what are the effects of physical activity on school performance?
The Relationship Between Physical Activity and School Performance
Over 50 studies have shown that there is an association between physical activity and school performance. However, most students don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each day. Less than 25% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 are physically active for at least 60 minutes a day—the amount of activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, when children get enough exercise each day, it can benefit their learning. Here are a few ways that physical activity and performance at school are connected:
- Cognitive Skills and Attitudes - Studies have shown that being physically active can help improve the cognitive skills and attitudes of students. This involves things like a child’s attentiveness and concentration, how well they are able to remember information, their verbal abilities, and overall cognitive functioning. Physical activity can help improve these areas because it can change the physiology of the brain by increasing blood flow, oxygenation, developing nerve connections, increasing brain tissue volume, and more. When a child’s brain is healthier and operating at a higher level, they are able to harness its power more effectively for school-related activities.
- Academic Behaviors - Similarly, physical activity can affect school performance by impacting a child’s academic behaviors, which involve how they view learning and behave at school. Some examples of academic behavior include how a child conducts themselves, whether or not they attend class, the amount of time they stay on task, how often they complete their homework, and more. When a child’s brain is receiving all the benefits of exercise, it can improve how they feel and think about school, which can then improve how they perform at school.
- Academic Achievement - Getting enough physical activity has also been linked to higher academic achievement in students, which involves higher grades and standardized test scores. This results from the benefits physical activity provides the brain, which helps students focus and study more efficiently, retain knowledge better, process information quicker, cope with stress and anxiety, and engage in higher levels of critical thinking.
At the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Delta, we do whatever it takes to build great futures. We aim to serve the children in our communities, especially by keeping them safe and healthy while promoting respect and equality. One of the ways we do this is through our afterschool programs, which provide a safe place for all children where they have access to homework help, fitness activities, workforce development, literacy activities, and more.
Each of our programs and clubs provides kids with a safe place to play, learn, exercise, and receive nutritious foods. Find out how you can get involved with our organization by signing your child up for a club or afterschool program, making a donation, or volunteering to help our cause today!