1. Research shows that, in general, children who regularly engage in physical activity show stronger academic performance than peers who are more inactive, still, etc.
The strongest relationships have been found between aerobic activities and student performance in reading, English, and math.
2. Spending time on physical activities leads to health benefits for the body and brain, and enriched brain development.
The findings across several research studies indicate that increases in aerobic activity are related to improvements in brain structure and brain functions that underlie academic performance.
Regular participation in physical activity also leads to improvements in:
- working memory (e.g., when you use your working memory you recall and utilize information at the same time. For instance, your child is using their working memory as they remember the steps of a recipe while cooking a favorite meal.)
3. Additionally, children who participate in regular aerobic exercise are shown to take on tasks more independently and rely less on environmental cues and teacher prompting than less active peers.
Taking these findings into consideration, the benefits of incorporating physical activity/education into the school day, outweigh the benefits of using school hours predominantly for academic instruction. Particularly because not all children have opportunities to be physically active outside of school.
Overall, physical activity leads to an improvement in quality of life, which allows us to execute our skills more efficiently in the areas of academics, problem-solving, and working memory.
Exercise/Movement can be accomplished in a variety of ways before, during, and after school.
- We can incorporate physical activity into learning [e.g., Class what is 5 + 3? Show me your answer by doing jumping jacks (8 jumping jacks)]
- We can give movement breaks (e.g., let’s do this 10-minute dance video before we do our next activity)
- We can incorporate exercise/sports in the school day (e.g., today in gym we are playing basketball)
And of course, parents and students are encouraged to participate in physical fitness outside of the school day (e.g., sports, martial arts, swimming, dancing, stretching, walking, jogging/running, bike riding, gymnastics, etc.).
Some students might benefit from a nice physical activity to break up their nightly homework into two shorter sessions.
Give them a few minutes to just sit and recoup as well, with a healthy snack and some water 🙂
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