Finding the balance between academics and physical fitness can be hard for parents and teachers, but if we want our kids do do well in school, we’ve got to get them away from the books and onto the field for at least an hour a day.
According to the CDC, there is a growing body of research suggesting a link between physical activity and academic performance among school-aged kids.
It’s something we need to make more time for, and researcher shows that when school days are adjusted to make time for it, kids’ academic performance doesn’t suffer.
“Not only does regular exercise and activity increase physical and cardiovascular health, it can improve sleep; reduce stress, depression, and anxiety; increase attention, learning, and school performance; and minimize illness, all while maintaining a healthy weight,” Sarah E. Messiah, a professor of pediatrics recently wrote for the Miami Herald.
According to Messiah, in addition to the way physical activity build a kids bones, muscles and endurance, it may also boost their grades—but most U.S. high school students aren’t getting enough physical activity. We might be able to turn that stat around if we get our kids moving at a younger age.
“Children and adolescents engage in different types of physical activity, depending on age and access to programs and equipment in their schools, playgrounds, parks and communities,” she writes.
“Elementary school-age children should be encouraged to engage in free play, running and chasing games such as tag, jumping rope and age-appropriate sports and activities that are aligned with their stage of fundamental motor skills development.”
Many schools recognize the importance of active play, but if your child isn’t getting as much exercise as they should through recess or during a gym class, Messiah suggests planning a 30-60 minute physical activity after school, before they start homework.
When kids get beyond elementary age, you could encourage them to take up a team sport, but if that’s not their thing, kids can still get the benefits through other activities like kayaking, mountain biking, weight training or just plain old running. ?♀️