You might be well versed in the health benefits of regular exercise and sport for your child, but what about the academic benefits? Exercise can have an incredibly beneficial impact on studies, and children who take part in physical activity regularly are more likely to succeed academically. Let’s explore the link between sport and study more closely.
Exercise supports brain cognition
There is a great deal of scientific research which supports the hypothesis that exercise has cognitive benefits in people of all ages, but it may be especially important in children. It appears that physical activity supports the survival of neurons in parts of the developing brain which affect higher thinking, memory and learning.
There is a clear link between fitness and language skills, according to a study performed at the University of Illinois in 2014. Children’s fitness levels were determined by measuring their oxygen uptake while exercising. Those who were more fit appeared to show a better understanding of language than their less-fit peers. Furthermore, the fittest children seemed to process information more quickly than those who were less fit. It seems as though fitter children can allocate resources in the brain to support language and reading comprehension more efficiently than unfit children.
Physical activity improves classroom concentration
Research into the short term effects of exercise has found that children are better able to concentrate on tasks in the classroom immediately after engaging in physical activity. This is why it’s so important for kids to get active during their breaks at school because it helps them to become more receptive during lessons. Parents might find that kids have an easier time sitting down to focus on their homework after engaging in a sports club or exercise class. The better focused a child is, the more successful they will complete a task and more likely they will be to retain the information learned.
It isn’t clear exactly why exercise can have such an immediate effect on focus. It could be because the increase in heart rate and subsequent blood flow immediately aids short term brain function. Brain scans have shown that neural activity is higher in children immediately after walking for 20 minutes compared to sitting for 20 minutes. Another explanation is that it is simply a case of kids burning off excess energy and excitement before they settle down to an activity that requires them to be still and calm.
Peer support and social benefits of sports clubs
The link between sport and study could be far more complex than the physiological benefits of exercise on brain function. When sport in schools is a fun, sociable activity, children might be more likely to attend and/or be more engaged when at school.
Sporting activities can foster peer engagement and connectedness, boost self-esteem and mood, and encourage kids to support one another not only in the activity itself but perhaps emotionally and academically once bonds have been formed. Extracurricular sporting activities seem to support academic performance just as much as PE lessons in schools.
Furthermore, regular exercise supports physical health generally, and kids who are healthy are less likely to be absent from school as a result of sickness. This might be particularly true for kids with chronic health conditions such as asthma which can be improved with regular exercise. The more time kids can spend in school, the better their education will be.
Encourage kids to exercise to support their education
With so much evidence pointing towards the benefits of exercise on children’s studies, it’s clear that getting your child involved in a sports club could do a world of good for their academic lives as well as their physical health. In terms of what type of exercise is good for studies, it seems that aerobic activity offers the most benefits. Football, rugby, tennis and gymnastics are all brilliant choices, but the most important thing is that your child has fun. If they genuinely enjoy their sports lessons, they’re far more likely to want to show up regularly and push themselves to their best ability.
Check out Little Foxes Club to see our full range of sports and activities for children and find the right type of exercise to help your child thrive academically.