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Posts Tagged ‘exercise and academics’


For many adults exercise is a chore, but to most kids it is second nature, and more importantly – fun! Almost everyday that I pick my daughter up from preschool, she wants us to run around the empty parking lot, climb up the concrete block wall, and run along the top of it – over and over, back and forth. She acts as my personal trainer pushing me harder than I would ever push myself. If it’s not the parking lot, then it’s to the park to play tag or run up and down the play structure. You may think that kids are just playing around, but I realized in actuality, kids are setting the groundwork to be more focused and smart in the future.

Recent studies show that physically fit children perform better on academic tests, as well as have faster reaction times (mentally) than sedentary children. Does exercise make kids smarter? A Columbia study suggests that when you exercise, a high volume of blood flows to the hippocampus (an area of the brain associated with memory), and may help to produce fresh neurons. A separate study showed that active children have a “significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention span and ‘executive control,’ or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply,” according to the New York Times.

In 2008, a primary school had to cut back on academic instructional classes in order to make more time for physical play. A study was done (Trudeau and Shephard) on the effects of exercise and a child’s academia; and though you might expect a child’s academic performance to suffer if they are not spending more time in the classroom, studies found that kids either maintain or improve their academic performance. So why are schools cutting sports and Physical Education classes?

Do these studies prove that exercise makes kids smarter – not necessarily? It is possible that smarter kids are more likely to seek out physical activity. Either way we know that exercise is good for the body and is probably beneficial for the brain.  We have nothing to lose by encouraging kids to exercise. FYI – You might want to follow in your child’s footsteps because the same is true for exercise in adults!

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