These days, you notice a lot of children are keeping themselves busy with sports and other extracurricular activities. They swim, they join the soccer team, they go hiking, they would attend a certain sports camp, and so on, which is good since a study has shown that physically active kids actually improve on academics. So how does all that exercise affect children’s performance in school? That will be explained below.

According to a study featured in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, participation in physical activity has a positive effect to children with regards to academic performance. It states that “physical activity and sports are generally promoted for their positive effect on children’s physical health; regular participation in physical activity in childhood is associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk in youth and adulthood. There is also a growing body of literature suggesting that physical activity has beneficial effects on several mental health outcomes, including health-related quality of life and better mood states.

In addition to the positive physical and mental health impact of physical activity, there is a strong belief that regular participation in physical activity is linked to enhancement of brain function and cognition thereby positively influencing academic performance. There are several hypothesized mechanisms for why exercise is beneficial for cognition, including (1) increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain; (2) increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, resulting in a reduction of stress and an improvement of mood; and (3) increased growth factors that help to create new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity.

You may have noticed how a quick run somehow gives you clarity and enables you to focus when, before that, your mind was all fogged up. That’s because exercise directly affects brain function. And that’s exactly why kids need to stay active in school. Exercise helps develop and protect our brain neurons. It also stimulates the production of compounds that protect the nerves, allowing them to strengthen their connections. Plus, it allows for greater blood flow to the brain. All this improves brain function which can lead to the improvement of children’s behaviour in the classroom. In turn, it makes them more likely to concentrate on lectures and participate in classroom activities, and less likely to struggle with homework.

So if you’re kid spends more time watching the NBA or playing NBA 2K14 on the computer, why not encourage them to join the school’s basketball team or set up a ring at home and get them to shoot some hoops. Or if your kid just hangs in her room listening to music on her iPod, why not urge her to sign up for dance class or audition for the cheerleading squad.

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