Numerous people underestimate how imperative exercise and physical activities are in shaping up the wellbeing of school-going kids. As per studies, schoolchildren who engage in regular exercise tend to do better academically.
The benefits of physical activities for children include better attention, performance in tests, memory retention, enhanced reaction time, problem-solving skills, and creative thinking.
If you thought that the academic performance of your child solely depends on the amount of time spent studying, you are wrong.
Good grades and academic performance of schoolchildren depend on multiple factors, ranging from the environment they live in, to their intellect.
One of the most essential, mostly-overlooked, and influential factors are your children’s physical health. Health and exercise can boost your kid’s ability to focus and learn. As per the National Academy of Medicine, physical activities can improve a kid’s health, academic performance, and cognitive skills significantly.
Factors affecting a child’s performance at school
Along with the IQ level, economic, personal, environmental, psychological, and social factors play a crucial role in education.
However, the effects of these factors tend to vary from child to child. Some of these factors are:
- The teaching style and teacher support
- Peer values
- Class environment
- Mental health
- Family educational background
- Gender difference
- Socioeconomic factors
- Parental involvement
Studies reveal that kids who are active daily and get adequate have the following positives as compared to kids who are less active and do not often get proper exercise(1):
- More focused attention
- Better cardiovascular function
- Better memory retention
- Better metabolic function
- Improved fitness
- Better problem-solving skills
- Improved bone health
- Improved academic performance
- Better performance in tests
- Increased positive moods
- Enhanced creative thinking
- Better reaction time
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Importance of physical activity in children
Kids should remain active daily to support their proper growth and development.
Children who adopt a healthy lifestyle during the school days tend to follow it through the rest of their life and, therefore, get several benefits.
Exercise can help children cope with stress. Also, it helps promote:
- Growth and development
- Stronger bones, joints, and muscles
- Better self-esteem
- A stronger heart
- Better balance and posture
- Social interactions with classmates
- Healthier weight range
- Better concentration and focus
Ask if the child wants to enroll in an individual activity, play a team sport, join recreational or skill-based classes, or do their tasks with a family member or friend.
Parents can offer guidance or support about how to get started and how much activity the child needs daily. Most importantly, kids need to enjoy activities and stay motivated.
Maintaining an activity log helps them track the progress of their children, while rewards and praise for every small goal attained can help in keeping them motivated.
Kids should learn to:
- Practice warming up and cooling down before and after every exercise session
- Have sufficient water breaks during sports, physical activities, and exercise
- Wear sunglasses, hat, and sunblock when stepping out during summers
- Start at a level that is suitable for their current fitness level. Children must be advised to keep exercises safe. Too much too early can lead to injury.
- Wear appropriate protective equipment
Exercise promotes the healthy development of schoolchildren. The three significant benefits of exercise of children are:
Exercises focused on building stamina in kids offer several health benefits. Endurance exercises generally involve the continual movement of multiple, large muscle groups. As a result, they tend to increase the heart rate, causing the children to work out a sweat and quickens their breathing. Such exercises promote the development of healthy lungs and heart.
Also, endurance exercises create fun and excitement in children, without having to be over-competitive. Parents should help their kids choose the right exercise for them.
Some popular endurance exercises include:
- Scootering, skateboarding, and in-line skating
- Dancing, tennis, Swimming, skating, and martial arts
- Skipping, playing tag, Hiking, jogging, dodgeball, and cycling
- Soccer, basketball, Hockey, and football
- Wall climbing, Skiing, and lacrosse
Exercises that make the kids stretch, bend, and promote flexibility. With sufficient flexibility, children will find it easier to participate in daily activities and concentrate on studies for more number of hours, without complaining lower back or neck pain.
Being flexible also reduces muscle stiffness, increases relaxation, minimizes the risk of injuries, and promotes good posture.
- Spending active time on a playground
- Dancing, gymnastics, and wall climbing
- Raking leaves and gardening
- Yoga, stretching and skipping routines
By working against resistance, your kids gain strength and build better bones. Sufficient muscle strength helps children to stay active all day long and increase stamina to cope up with the demands of daily activities without subjecting their muscles and joints to excessive stress.
Activities and exercises that build strength help build strong bones, improve posture, boosts muscle health. Also, these exercises promote their ability to lift and maneuver obstacles, which enhances their cognitive health and concentration.
Strength exercises to boost muscle and bone health include:
- Climbing stairs and raking leaves
- Lifting and carrying stuff such as garden waste, garbage, and groceries
- Playground activities such as monkey bars, scaling poles, and climbing ladders
- Gymnastics, push-ups, and sit-ups
- Calisthenics with their body weight used as resistance
- Light weightlifting using hand weights, bands, and tubing
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How exercise helps your children?
Studies reveal that exercises increase the mental strength of children. Various researches have also indicated a promising link between exercises and improved performance at school amongst children.
The muscles and other vital systems in your child’s body are no different than the brain. It is believed children can use or lose their mind during their young age, depending upon how they use it. Similarly, it is also crucial for them to train, build, and grow other vital systems of their body. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Various studies reveal that exercise not just boosts the physical health of your child, but it also complements their mental health.
Regular exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain along with increasing the number of pheromones and chemicals released. An increased flow of oxygen and blood to the brain is directly associated with improved cognitive health.
1. Exercise improves your child’s concentration
Studies have concluded that physically active kids are better at problem-solving and analytical skills. They tend to exhibit improved cognitive performance in activities such as quizzes and puzzles as compared to less active kids.
Studies have also found numerous anatomical differences in the brains of kids who’re active than the brains of those kids who’re not too active! Various structures related to emotion regulation, attention, and memory are usually larger in kids who get regular exercises as compared to those who don’t.
Learning isn’t just about being glued to the books and, therefore, you must encourage your kids to also focus on exercise, being agile, or better yet to follow a sport.
Exercise gets your kid’s brain prepared to learn by improving attention, which helps enhance their ability to process information.
2. Exercise improves your child’s learning ability
Exercises tend to push your kid’s brain to continue working at optimal capacity by helping the nerve cells multiply faster along with strengthening their interconnections.
Studies suggest that nerve cells release ‘neurotrophic factor’, an essential protein. This brain-derived neurotrophic factor helps trigger several other chemicals for promoting neural health that has a direct positive influence on the brain.
Also, exercise keeps your child fit, which in turn affect their brain by:
- Delivering more oxygen and blood to the brain
- Improving the survival and growth of neurons
- Producing nerve-protecting compounds to facilitate the generation of new nerve cells along with supporting synaptic plasticity
Also, exercise boosts your kid’s levels of endorphins and norepinephrine, which helps reduce stress along with improving overall mood.
3. Exercise improves your child’s brain function
As discussed, physical activities help increase increasing the growth and development of new connections between nerve cells in various vital cortical areas of your child’s brain. As a result, there’s a growth in neuronal connections along with improved synaptic plasticity. Also, it helps prevent depression by reducing stress hormones.
The right combination of aerobic fitness and motor skills help improve your kid’s performance at school.
Most schoolchildren nowadays prefer spending time on different types of electronic gadgets, which subject them to several adverse effects, such as:
- Promotes aggression
- Increases the risk of obesity
- Dries up their eyes
- Leads to poor sleep cycles
- Leads to back pain
- Leads to hearing disorders
- Triggers the growth of cancerous cells
And therefore, the importance of exercise and regular old-school games and activities, which focus on physical and mental agility, gets even more crucial.
As per a 2014 study conducted at the University of Madrid, motor skills built by exercise may prove more essential than any cardio-respiratory benefit gained by aerobic fitness.
Also, the study found that the brains of aerobically-fit kids generally have more fibrous and compact white-matter tracts than kids who’re not as fit.
As discussed, the benefits of regular exercise for your children can hardly be overlooked. It not just helps them stay fit, but also helps improve their academic performance at school.
However, along with encouraging your kids to take part in exercises and sports, ensure that they maintain a healthy diet along with getting the recommended amount of sleep. This will add icing on the cake by further improving their growth and development.