We all know that being active creates a healthier body and there is now an ever increasing amount of work that shows that time spent being physically active also builds a healthier mind. (1)
Studies show that when physical activity is performed during the school day there is a positive impact on academic performance. (2,3)
Specifically that increasing aerobic fitness improves working memory(4) and that children respond faster and with greater accuracy to a variety of cognitive tasks after participating in a session of physical activity. (5, 6, 7, 8 & 9)
The reason for this relationship between exercise and academic results is that children are able to learn better because of improved executive function. They have improved inhibition control, working memory and cognitive flexibility, as well as improved reasoning, problem-solving and planning.
Inhibition control is the ability to act appropriately within an environment. In a classroom that can be a child stopping speaking when the teacher begins teaching. Or knowing the difference between inside and outside voices
Working memory is the ability to hold information mentally, to be able to manipulate it, and act on the information. So, in solving a mathematical problem it’s remembering the remainder. Or for our younger kids it’s remembering a sequence of instructions and completing them in the right order.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to switch perspectives, focus attention, and adapt behaviour quickly and flexibly. For older children this is shifting attention from the teacher who is teaching a lesson to make notes for later study. For EYFS ages, this can be sitting quietly and still whilst paying attention to what the teacher is saying.
If your child is having more specific challenges in these areas please visit our sister website www.actionpotential.info for more information.
- Hillman et al., 2008.
- Rasberry et al., 2011.
- Fredericks et al., 2006.
- Kamijo et al., 2011.
- Tomporowski, 2003.
- Budde et al., 2008.
- Hillman et al., 2009.
- Pesce et al., 2009.
- Ellemberg and St-Louis-Deschênes, 2010.