A new review of studies shows that physical activity and exercise may help children to perform better in academics. According to the researchers physical activity improves the functioning of the brain and enhances thinking skills by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain cells. Exercise also increases the production of feel good hormones like endorphins. Researcher Amika Singh, PhD, of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, says that increased physical activity also improves the behaviour which enables them to concentrate on the academic content. The review is published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
In the review, the researchers analyzed 14 different studies focusing on physical activity and academic performance of children between the age of 6 and 18. Out of the 14 studies, 12 were conducted in the US. The researchers found a strong link between physical activity and academic performance in the studies considered. In the review only two of the studies met the standards of high quality research, and both of these studies showed a strong positive link between physical activity and academics.
Even though there is growing evidence that physical activity increases the performance of children in schools, the levels of these activities are reducing in schools. Researchers feel that the reduction in time spent on physical activity is compensated by additional instructional time given to subjects like mathematics and language to improve the academic scores of children. They also feel that more studies are required to further explain this association between physical activity and academic performance in children.