How Exercise can Help Improve Academic Performance

Did you know there’s a connection between physical activity and improved academic performance for kids?

There have been a multitude of studies in the past decade linking the two. From increasing recess times to improving physical education classes, it’s clear that exercise benefits kids. In recent years it’s also been found that doing physical activity during academics helps them  retain the material better. 

In a study of about 500 kids, adding exercise resulted in students learning an additional four months of material over two years versus their classmates who didn’t have active lessons. You don’t have to wait that long to see results; physical activity can energize kids to complete a task or help break them out of a rut if they’re frustrated.

The science behind it? Physical activity makes our body produce endorphins, which can reduce stress and improve our outlook. For kids, it can help them change obstacles into a challenge they can overcome, or see a problem in a new light. 

Implementing Exercise to Improve Academic Performance

Most studies were conducted in a classroom, but parents can use exercise to help their children with homework. Here are a couple ways you can implement this idea at home.

  • If your kids are working on math, have them solve a basic math problem like three times two, and do as many jumping jacks as the answer; six. 
  • For more advanced math, have them read the problem aloud, and then run in place while they explain how they would find the answer. 
  • If they’re studying topics like history or science, you can help by quizzing them with true or false questions. If the answer is true, they will do a movement like a spin in place. For false, pick another movement like jumping in the air. 
  • For tasks that require memorization, like spelling, pick smaller movements and use them for each piece of information. For example, if your kid spells the word “apple,” have them stand on one foot, and then switch feet on every letter.

If your kids are having trouble focusing altogether, take a break and do a short, high-intensity burst of activity. Do a shuttle run between your front door and the mailbox, see who can do 10 burpees the fastest, or even run in place as fast as you can for 30 seconds. The goal is to get their blood pumping to increase oxygen and endorphins and get through the last bit of whatever they’re stuck on.  

Homework and grades can be stressful for the whole family. Find out how to help your kids with grades in a positive way, too!