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Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School

National Institute of Health

It seems like common sense that exercise helps every body function, including cognitive brain function. Scientists may agree with common sense, but they tend to like evidence.

That means lots of experiments to test and verify their assumptions. When it comes to physical activity and academic performance, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that maybe we should be spending more school time working the body instead of constantly testing the brain to see how well it withstands boredom.

Evidence suggests that increasing physical activity and physical fitness may improve academic performance. Additionally, Available evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the academic topics that are most influenced by physical activity.

Basic cognitive functions related to attention and memory facilitate learning, and these functions are enhanced by physical activity and higher aerobic fitness.

Single sessions of and long-term participation in physical activity improve cognitive performance and brain health. Children who participate in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity benefit the most.

These and tons of other research results can be found in:

Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment; Food and Nutrition Board; Institute of Medicine; Kohl HW III, Cook HD, editors.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2013 Oct 30.
Move it or lose it remains our best guideline for cognitive function, health and longevity.

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