Do you think physical activity is unrelated to academic performance? Although we may not associate sports and physical activity with intellectual achievement, research shows that kids – as well as adults – who are physically active do, on average, outperform those who are less active.
While most people might associate high grades with long periods studying, research from the Boston University School of Medicine shows that young people that engage in physical activity regularly have higher than average cognitive performance.
Research also shows that these benefits continue through life, with elderly people that exercise also showing improved cognitive performance and a reduced risk of many cognitive conditions compared to their peers.
Regular exercise leads to improved brain health
The study involved researchers measuring the brain hormone levels of young adults and comparing them to the person’s level of aerobic fitness, such as their endurance during running, swimming or other physically demanding activities.
Higher than average aerobic fitness was positively correlated with academic fitness, with students that exercised regularly possessing a larger amount of hormones that contribute to cognitive function and memory.
Part of the reason for the correlation between sports and exercise is the creation of growth factors – hormones that are released by the body during physical exertion, which have a positive effect on cognitive health.
Sports training could lead to better grades
Regular physical activity from walking, climbing trees, playing a sport or dancing, has significant benefits not just for students’ aerobic health, but also for their grades. Any organised sporting activity also provide many other benefits including improved social interaction and being part of a greater cause.
At ExemplarEducation we’re all fans of sports. Training and playing as part of a team is also a great way for kids and young adults to learn important cooperation skills.
Although we may think of the physical health benefits of exercise first, the growing pool of evidence is overwhelming in showing that the cognitive benefits are significantly increased. Study hard and play hard – it’s just one more reason that both children and adults should take exercise seriously.