Active Kids Do Better in School
Middle school students who perform more vigorous physical activity than their more sedentary piers tend to do better in school, according to a new study done by researchers from Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. The research is published in the August issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
For one academic year, the study tracked more than 200 sixth graders. For one semester half of the students took the general physical education class offered by the school, while the other half took part in a non-physical education course. Halfway through the school year they switched. The researchers found that students taking the physical education course did no better or worse in their academic classes.
“Physical education and activity during the school day reduce boredom and help keep kids’ attention in the classroom,” said Dawn Podulka Coe, the study’s lead author who is now an assistant professor in the Department of Movement Science at Grand Valley State University. “We were expecting to find that students enrolled in PE would have better grades because of the opportunity to be active during the school day. But enrollment in PE alone did not influence grades.”
However, the researchers also found that students who took part in more vigorous physical activities – such as organized sports like soccer or football, or non-organized after-school activities such as skateboarding – did approximately 10 percent better in core classes such as math, science, English and social studies.
“The students who performed better academically in this study were the most active, meaning those who participated in a sport or other vigorous activity at least three times a week” added Coe.
The difference between vigorous activity and moderate activity is heart rate. Moderate activities, such as walking or raking leaves, don’t get the heart rate up or make the person breathe harder. Vigorous activities, such as running or swimming for exercise, increase heart rate, causing the exerciser to breathe harder and increasing oxygen to the brain.
With school about to start, we encourage all parents to take this new study to heart. We encourage you consider organized sports as a way to help your child do better in school, be healthier, maintain the proper weight, and to build a foundation of health that can last a lifetime.