It’s time for back-to-school again. Most parents and children are adjusting to the new routines of waking up early, packing lunches and doing homework.
Want to know what you can do to help your children do better in school this fall? Get them active. Growing research has linked physical activity with better academic performance.
In one recent study, researchers found that middle-school students who performed best on fitness tests, performed better academically as well.
The study, conducted by James Pivarnik, president elect of the American College of Sports Medicine and his colleagues, tested 317 students grades six through eight.
The fittest groups of students scored almost 30 percent higher on standardized tests than the least fit group. And the least fit kids had grades in four core classes that were 13 to 20 percent lower than all the other kids in the study.
Experts believe that exercise may boost academic performance in many ways, including: burning of pent-up energy and allowing kids to have a better attention span to focus on their work, boosting seft esteem and mood, and helping with memory recall and concentration.
Ken Endris, the principal at Fouke Elementary in Arkansas, where state law requires elementary students to get 150 minutes of physical activity each week, says most kids enjoy activity breaks – and their teachers do too.
“Teachers say the kids are more alert when they come to the classroom’” says Endris, a former PE teacher.
Many Schools Have Reduced or Eliminated Gym Classes and Recesses
So should you turn to team sports if your child’s school is lacking in PE and recess? Not necessarily so. While some sports can definitely help kids to shape up, regular free play – at the playground or your backyard – may work just as well, or even better.
The key is to find something active your kids enjoy doing that gets them off the couch and on the go.