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The Power of Movement: Enhancing Learning and Focus in Students


As parents, we want our children to succeed academically and reach their full potential. Did you know that incorporating movement into their daily routines can significantly impact their learning, focus, and overall well-being? Research has shown that exercise is essential, particularly for students with executive function challenges. Let’s explore the benefits of movement and how it can support your child’s educational journey.

Exercise is a catalyst for improved memory and brain function. Regular exercise not only strengthens the body but also fortifies the brain. When we engage in physical activity, such as walking, running, or playing sports, our brains receive an increased supply of oxygen and blood flow, especially to the hippocampus (the brain region responsible for memory and learning functions). This surge of neurotransmitters triggered by exercise enhances memory and cognitive abilities, making it easier for students to retain information and grasp new concepts.

Exercise enhances focus and attention span. Activity enhances focus and attention span for 2-3 hours post-workout. This benefit is especially noticeable for students who struggle to focus in the classroom. By incorporating movement breaks throughout the day, such as short walks, stretching, or even playing a quick game, you can help your child stay alert, focused, and perform better academically.

Exercise is a potent stress and anxiety reliever. Stress and anxiety can hinder a student’s ability to perform and learn fully. The good news is that exercise is a powerful stress and anxiety reliever. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, hormones that promote well-being and reduce pain perception. Production of these hormones leads to improved self-esteem, better sleep quality, and sharper mental functioning. By incorporating exercise into your child’s routine, you can help them manage stress, reduce anxiety, and create an optimal environment for learning.

The Evidence: The Benefits of Exercise for Students 

Numerous studies have documented the positive effects of exercise on students’ academic performance and overall well-being. In his book Spark, Dr. John Ratey discusses a school in Naperville, IL, that was mandated to participate in a daily physical activity program before school. The Naperville Community Unified School District 203, comprised of 19,000 students, became the best public school district in the world regarding science test scores and the best in the state for math and reading. In Spark, Dr. Ratey documents the direct link between moving while at school and academic success. 

Studies have consistently shown that regular exercise improves cognitive function, reduces stress and anxiety, and enhances attention and memory in students, including those with conditions like ADHD. A recent study published in Pediatrics found that 30 minutes of daily activity is enough to show significant improvements.

To summarize, movement is beneficial for physical health and crucial for cognitive development. By prioritizing regular exercise and incorporating activity breaks into your child’s routine, you can help them enhance their memory, focus, and overall well-being. Whether it’s participating in organized sports, going for walks or bike rides together, or simply encouraging active playtime, every bit of movement counts. Additionally, supporting your child’s school in incorporating exercise into the curriculum can contribute to their academic success. Let’s empower our children to thrive academically and lead healthy, active lives together.

Parenting a child who struggles with executive function can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Let Untapped help!

For More:

Exercise and the Brain: How Fitness Impacts Learning

Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills

How Movement and Gestures Can Improve Student Learning

Physical Activity, Fitness, and Physical Education: Effects on Academic Performance

Physical Activity Boosts Brain Health

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