Exercise boosts young people's brain power and academic prowess, says a new report on physical activity among kids in schools and during leisure time.
Time taken away from lessons for physical activity is time well spent and does not come at the cost of getting good grades, say the international panel of experts behind the report. The specialists’ study which spanned structured and unstructured forms of physical activity in children between the ages of 6 and 18, in school and during the leisure time, examined it impact on four themes of: fitness and health; intellectual performance; engagement, motivation and wellbeing; and social inclusion.
They concluded that physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children's and young people's brain development and function as well as their intellect. They noted that a session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess. Moreover, a single session of moderately energetic physical activity was shown to have immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance. They added that mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance and that time taken away from lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades.
Highlighting the physiological benefits of exercise, the report said that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness "are strong predictors" of the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes in later life, and that vigorous exercise in childhood helps to keep these risk factors in check.
The report added that the positive effects of exercise are not restricted to physical health, as regular physical activity can help develop important life skills, and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing. And it can strengthen/foster relationships with peers, parents, and coaches.