Exercise Boosts Academic Performance

A new study from researches at the University of Dundee, University of Bristol, and University of Georgia found that the more time teens spend exercising, the better they tend to do on tests. Specifically, the more active the child was at age 11, the greater their academic performance was during the tests in the following years. This held true even after taking into account other factors such as socioeconomic status, weight, and the child’s puberty status.

How does exercise boost academic performance? “Studies have revealed relationships between PA [physical activity] and relevant cognitive outcomes such as measures of executive function, as well as studies suggesting that PA might increase time ‘on task’ in class and reduce classroom ‘problem behavior,’” the researchers wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine study.

Of course, I’ve been a proponent of exercise positively impacting brainpower for years. As I’ve written in past articles and blogs, “Exercise improves children’s ability to learn. Physically fit children identify visual stimuli much faster than sedentary children. They concentrate better. Brain-activation studies show that children and adolescents who are fit allocate more cognitive resources to a task and do so for longer periods of time. They are also less likely to be disruptive in terms of classroom behavior when they are active. They feel better about themselves and have higher self-esteem, less depression, and less anxiety—all of which affect academic performance and attentiveness.”

So the bottom line is this: The more you prompt your students to move, the more you create their potential for improved learning.