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Children Who Exercise Do Better In School?

Kid's Running AroundA report suggests that kids who exercise more do better in school, but is this true? Here is what the report found.

Playing on a sports team and having more time to run around during break time is known to be good for kids’ physical health, but whether it also gives them a mental boost is the subject of debate – especially as schools have been cutting down the amount of time they get for their breaks in favour of more academic test prep.

Amika Singh, who worked on the study, said the findings meant that schools should prioritize both academics and exercise and that families could have the same attitude at home.

“Maybe it’s an activity break, stand up every half an hour in class and do something,” said Singh, from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

“It might mean going to school by bike … Any kind of physical activity you can think of. It doesn’t mean only the physical education standard class.”

Singh and her colleagues reviewed 14 studies which compared children’s physical activity with their grades and scores on math, language and general thinking and memory tests.

Those included two types of reports, such as 10 “observation studies” which researchers asked parents, teachers and students how active they were, then followed them for a few months to a few years to track their academic performance.

In the four other studies, one group of children were given extra time for physical education classes and other health and fitness exercises and their test scores were then later compared against a group of children who didn’t get extra exercise.

When researches asked how much time students spent exercising, they found that those with higher rates of physical activity did better in the classroom.

Three out of the four studies involving an exercise intervention found that students given more time to exercise scored higher on measures of academic performance.

In one report in the United States, second and third graders who got an extra 90 minutes of physical exercise each week did better of spelling, reading and math.

“There’s obviously the long-term links between physical activity and health,” said Sandy Slater, who has studied recess and physical education at the University of Illinois at Chicago but wasn’t involved in the latest study.

“But this is another reason to try to continue to keep some dedicated amount of time for physical education or recess or some other types of physical activity in the school day.”

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