Connection Between Exercise and Learning in Kids
As parents, we all know that kids need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit and to strengthen muscles and bones. However, recent studies have also revealed a link between regular exercise and academic performance. In addition to providing health benefits for our kids, daily exercise can improve the chance for success in school!
There are many studies that show the short-term benefits of exercise immediately prior to engaging in academic tasks. One recent randomized study of more than 220 school children found that kids assigned to engage in 60 minutes of daily, after-school aerobic activities performed better on tests of focus and the ability to switch between tasks while maintaining speed and accuracy (cognative flexibility). (Hillman et al 2014).
In addition to these short-term improvements in focus and task switching, additional studies suggest that physical exercise yields long-term benefits as well. For example, one study found that kids who exercised 10-20 minutes prior to a math test outperformed kids in sedentary control group (Howie et al 2015). Another study found that a 20-minute session of walking boosted children's subsequent performance on tests of reading, spelling, and arithmetic (Hillman et al 2009).
According to the USDA, Kids 6-17 years old should get 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. While there is no specific time duration recommendation for younger kids, 2-5 year-old children should play actively several times per day. (USDA, 2020). Exercise boosts cognitive performance and helps kids to focus. Unfortunately, with schools cutting back on recess and gym classes, kids have less time to be active during their school day.
What can a parent do to get her child the needed exercise? As the cold weather sets in, and there are less opportunities to play outside, parents looking for ways to get in some physical activity for their kids can turn to indoor play spaces like Jumpers. In the Jumpers Jungle kids will get the 60 minutes (or more) of physical activity that they need to stay healthy and perform at their best in school. We have Open Jump daily and you can check out our updated schedule on our homepage!
Hillman CH, Pontifex MB, Castelli DM, Khan NA, Raine LB, Scudder MR, Drollette ES, Moore RD, Wu CT, Kamijo K. 2014. Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function. Pediatrics pii: peds.2013-3219.
Howie EK, Schatz J, and Pate RR. 2015. Acute Effects of Classroom Exercise Breaks on Executive Function and Math Performance: A Dose-Response Study. Res Q Exerc Sport. 86(3):217-24.
Hillman CH, Buck SM, Themanson JR, Pontifex MB, Castelli DM. 2009. Aerobic fitness and cognitive development: Event-related brain potential and task performance indices of executive control in preadolescent children. Dev Psychol. 45(1):114-29.