Dr Karen Martin, School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia May 2010.
This publication has been updated with Brain boost: How sport and physical activity enhance children’s learning what the research is telling us (Martin, 2015).
Sport and physical activity
participation are generally promoted for their positive impact on
children’s physical and mental health.1 However, increased
participation in sport and other forms of physical activity are also
thought to lead to enhancement of cognitive functioning (information
processing), memory, concentration, behaviour and academic achievement
for children. The link between physical activity and academic
achievement is of increasing interest in the field of education and
Unfortunately, with increasing pressure on schools to
ensure children achieve academic success, and the new practise of
publicised average grade comparison between schools, physical activity
classes (such as physical education and sport) are increasingly being
pushed down the curriculum priority list. Of concern, it appears that
time spent in physical activity during the school day is diminishing;2-4 at
some schools the average moderate to vigorous physical activity during
the class has been reported as being less than 10 minutes daily.
Removing or reducing physical activity classes from the school day may
be detrimental to children’s physical and mental health as research
indicates that school day physical activity is associated with total
daily physical activity.5-7
The vast majority of research
indicates that replacing academic learning sessions with physical
activity does not have a detrimental impact on school grades; indeed
some intervention research indicates that increased participation in
physical activity leads to enhanced learning and better grades.8, 9 Evidence also suggests that achieving a threshold amount of physical activity may be necessary to acquire learning benefits,10 and that participation in vigorous physical activity may further enhance learning.11 Further
to this, there is evidence that there has been a reduction over the
years in children’s participation in physical activity and organised
community sport, and this is particularly evident in Australia.12
we reported the research evidence related to the relationship between
physical activity or sport and learning or academic success.13
This report provides an update of evidence reported from Australian and
international research published in peer-reviewed journals; providing
summaries of intervention research, correlational studies and research
Research proves that if your kid is physically active they do better at school.
Physical activity enhances cognitive function improving memory, behaviour, concentration and academic achievement.
On the other hand inactivity negatively impacts brain health and executive control including:
In other words – if you exercise, your brain is fitter and works better. It’s pretty simple!
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