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The Power of Movement: The Ultimate Learning Tool


For parents of student-athletes, balancing practice and game schedules while ensuring your student keeps up with their academic assignments can be daunting. However, did you know that encouraging daily physical activity in your student’s routines influences their learning, focus, and overall well-being? Research has shown that exercise is essential, not only for physical health but also for academic progress. 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 playing sports, walking around the block, or biking to school, 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 major 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. This effect can be enhanced by incorporating team activities. Team sports provide extra social support for your student. 

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. Studies consistently show 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.

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. 

Overall, 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. While the logistics of sports can be challenging, getting your students involved empower them to thrive academically and lead healthy, active lives.

For More:

Spark 

Exercise and the Brain: How Fitness Impacts Learning

Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking

How Movement Impacts Learning 

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

Health and Psychological Benefits of High School Sports

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