How Sports Increase Academic Performance

Exercise has the ability to boost both the brain and body with positive benefits. School performance is an area where memory, attention span, learning and social emotional skills are critical, all of which can be enhanced through participation in sports. Stress reduction and enhanced cognitive ability are key areas which improve through sports with long lasting benefits throughout the lifespan. Learn more about ways sports increase academic performance and how to support children in this area.


Brain Boost

Physical benefits are not the only positive thing to occur from exercise. Aerobic exercise, for example, pumps more blood throughout the body, including to the brain. More blood means increased levels of oxygen and better-nourished brain tissue. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a powerful protein which aids in cell growth within the brain. Studies suggest exercise increases production of new brain cells which aid in memory and learning skills.


Test Scores

Children have brains and bodies wired to learn and grow. Sports activity can grow the capacity to enhance academic performance, particularly on tests. Regardless of socioeconomic status or other demographics, children across the board see positive academic benefits from fitness of the mind and body. Increased levels of exercise over 30 minutes per day saw elevated academic performance above children of the same age who exercised or did sports only 20 minutes per day. Children are able to return to class lessons more focused, attentive and better behaved when recess is part of the day.


Types of Exercise

Aerobic and cardiovascular activities are great ways to enhance academic performance for children. Running, swimming, playground games and tennis are especially important for teaching skills but also lowering obesity rates and increasing social interaction. Even while physical education is on the chopping block for schools across the United States, it is important to support sports for children. Teenagers are more likely to continue being physically active if sports and exercise are introduced at a young age which can help build healthy habits as adults.  Budget constraints and focused attention on testing can cut back time for recess and exercise desperately needed for children to perform well in school and in life. Children who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds particularly benefit from programs such as tennis, basketball, soccer and other organized sports activities. The more regular a routine exercise becomes brings a higher likelihood of boosting long-term benefits for cardiovascular, emotional and physical health. All children should be encouraged to find an activity which is suitable for the age and ability of the child but supports the opportunity to exercise, meet people and learn some new skills along the way.

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