How physical activity positively affects our children’s ability to learn

It has often been said, “children learn through movement.” In addition to health benefits of physical activity, movement is an integral part of the young child’s life and education, for it is through movement that children develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Integrating physical activity with other curriculum subject areas gives children more opportunities to move during the school day. Learning in all areas of the curriculum is increased as children have more opportunities to understand the relationships that exist across content areas as they transfer what they learn in one area to other environments.

So why should we be concerned with “promoting” physical activity in our children? Children today find themselves more often in “sedentary alternatives”. For example, children ride in a car or bus to school, have less physical education, watch more television, play more sedentary games such as computer games, and do not have as much freedom to play outside on their own. Consequently, there is mounting evidence that even our young children are becoming less physically active and more overweight and obese.

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Besides reducing the risks associated with childhood obesity, physical activity is important for other reasons. Regular physical activity helps children:

  • build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  • builds lean muscle and reduces fat
  • prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure
  • reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
  • and may, through its effect on mental health, increase students’ capacity for learning.
The research and evidence is very clear on the benefit of exercise and physical activity and how it positively affects not only a lifestyle but also how it positively affects the biochemical responses of the body, ultimately affecting the learning process.

Unfortunately, many school systems have downsized or even eliminated physical education under the “assumption” that more classroom instructional time will improve academic performance and increase standardized test scores. Extensive research has shown this theory is flawed, with the exact opposite outcomes.

Whatever the case may be, you as a parent make the ultimate decision for your children. Whether it is promoting physical activity for your children at home, ensuring that your child’s school has a proper physical activity program, or even a more defined sports minded school like the one’s listed in our magazine, the options are there. It is up to you as the parent to guide and steer your children into becoming more active and ultimately living a healthier life.