True or False: Physically active children perform better academically than their less active counterparts. TRUE! But you don’t have to take my word for it.
In a research article published January 2012 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Singh and colleagues (2012) found that participation in physical activity is positively related to academic performance in children. To come to this conclusion, they compiled and analyzed 14 other research studies that examined the impact of physical activity on academic performance. The authors selected these studies after reviewing the titles and abstracts for relevance to their subject. In addition, to be included in the analysis, the studies had to report at least one physical activity or physical fitness measurement for K-12 school-age children, and at least one academic performance or cognition measure for this age group. After synthesizing and analyzing these studies, the authors were able to conclude that, by and large, a student’s performance is significantly impacted by their level of physical fitness or activity.
However, being physically active should not end once children arrive at school. Active Living Research published a report in October 2011 that summarizes research on school physical education and physical activity policies and offers policy suggestions for engaging children in physical activity during school hours. This report cites studies that have been able to validate the importance of regularly scheduled physical education (PE) classes. Studies found that physical activity helps children focus better on academic tasks and even enhances their academic achievement. More specifically, academic achievement improved over a three-year period for students who participated in physical activity breaks during school hours. What’s more, elementary school students who were given these “active breaks” improved their ability to stay on task during academic work by 20 percent, but inactive classroom breaks had no effect on children’s school performance.
So… is physical activity important to your child’s academic performance? In short, yes! Since the primary purpose of attending school is to improve one’s cognitive abilities, what better, more natural way to jumpstart this learning process every morning than by allowing students to walk and bicycle to school? It's a no brainer: Engage your children in physical activity today! And, Safe Routes to School advocates--take advantage of the research linking physical activity to academic performance when you are promoting Safe Routes to School to principals, teachers and other education professionals.
To access more research studies on this topic, click here.