The Role of Physical Activities in Children’s Learning


Physical activity is known to be beneficial for body development and even to social improvements and learning skills. What about in improving a child’s academic performance?

According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine children who are more active show better attention, can do cognitive processing faster, and have better academic performance based on standardized academic exams, compared to children who are less active. Another research supports the relationship between physical fitness and examination score. In one study, for example, almost 2,000 California schoolchildren who were not qualified as physically fit got lower scores on state standardized exams compared to those who were fit. However it’s not proven that the higher test scores are because of fitness alone and other factors like socioeconomic status are also considered.

Nevertheless, more studies suggest that more physical activities during the school day enhance kids’ learning capacity. In Kansas, two sets of teachers were studied. The first group in 14 elementary schools was trained to do teaching lessons using movements like hopping or running to letters on the floor in spelling a word or solving a math problem. The second group was not trained in ten other schools.

Findings show that the additional activity has positive results on the kids’ body weight.  Twenty one percent of obese children have turned into their normal body weight in the schools with additional physical activity. While 16.8 percent of at-risk kids moved to normal in the schools without additional physical activity. Furthermore, the research found out that the schools that used active lessons got higher scores on a 30-minute standardized test of reading, writing and math than in the schools that didn’t.

It is too early to draw conclusions out of these studies; nevertheless the evidence suggests that physical activity is more beneficial than expected. Now, in a world where children are so fond of video games and other non-physical activities, it is a great challenge for parents and schools to encourage more physical activities to gain its benefits among the children.

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