As a parent, you might wish there was a quick fix for your child's poor grades. Tutors and incentive charts can be part of the solution, but there might be another way to improve academic performance. Boosting your child's fitness profile with regular exercise might help his achievement in the classroom.
How It Works
Physical fitness seems to correlate with academic performance, but researchers aren't sure why or how. Exercise apparently boosts blood and oxygen flow and improves brain function, making it easier to focus, memorize material and possibly avoid making mistakes on tests. Physical activity also floods the body with certain mood-enhancing chemicals that might make learning more enjoyable. Exercise can also improve your child's self-image and might help mitigate the effects of social and academic stress. Whatever the mechanism, cardiovascular fitness appears to be a significant predictor of academic success, according to a review of literature appearing in the edition of "Journal of Pediatrics."
What You Can Do
Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That hour can be broken into bite-sized pieces, since even short bursts of activity throughout the day seem to offer some academic benefit. Encourage your child to exercise during recess rather than sitting on the sidelines. Remind her that traditional games -- such as tag, jumping rope, climbing on equipment and running races -- will likely wake up her brain and help her sit still in class. Work with school officials to ensure that kids have safe outdoor play options and that recess monitors are trained to motivate kids to be active. After school, limit TV time and encourage your child to take up biking or jogging or to attend a dance class.
- Journal of Pediatrics: Evidence That Aerobic Fitness Is More Salient Than Weight Status in Predicting Standardized Math and Reading Outcomes in Fourth- Through Eighth-Grade Students
- Acta Paediatrica: Physical Fitness and Academic Performance in Middle School Students
- Journal of Pediatrics: Low Aerobic Fitness and Obesity Are Associated With Lower Standardized Test Scores in Children
- ABC for Fitness; David Katz, MD
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity