Did you know that encouraging your child to go outside to play can be a step towards helping her do better in school? Researchers have found that children who are more physically active actually perform better academically.  Wonder why this is the case? There are several reasons why physical fitness and school performance seem to relate.

Physical Activity Benefits and School Performance

A study looking at students in California explored the relationship between physically fitness levels and the academic achievements. The researchers, affiliated with California State University, assessed the academic levels of schools using their facility scores in the California Standards Test in reading, science and math. Interestingly enough, the researchers found that the top schools for academic performance had a designated physical fitness instructor and also followed the state Board of Education's fitness recommendations. On the flip side, the schools with the lowest achievement levels didn't have any gym teachers. These findings, which make a strong case for physical activity benefits for kids, were published in the California Journal of Health Promotion in 2006.

Growing Concerns in this Area

With recent budget shortfalls in schools, however, many cities and towns are finding the need to cut their extra curricular activities, including gym classes and other opportunities for children to exercise their physical capacities. The study findings remind school officials that eliminating physical fitness activities is especially strong cause for concern, especially when this has such a direct link to how the students will perform in the classroom.

It's also worth noting that the findings have long-term implications, too, since school performance is ultimately related to college admission, job opportunities and other future successes.

The Obesity Connection

Further, other researchers point to the role that being physically fit has in combating the growing problem of obesity. With increased awareness about the dangers inherent in being overweight, it's more important than ever for youngsters to be active and stay in good shape. In fact, physical activity benefits can be crucial to helping kids to combat a number of important health problems, including card iovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.

Some researchers even believe that school performance declines when children become overweight. This is in part because obese children have lower self-esteem, but it also occurs because obese children also have more health problems that force them to miss school more often than their thinner counterparts.

In addition, other studies have found a link that exists between being physically fit and cognitive ability, further supporting the idea that kids who are especially active will do better in school overall.


California Journal of Health Promotion

Education Resources Information Center

The Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology