More physical education at school means not only better motor skills, but also better grades.
Kids are not getting enough physical activity at home or at school, but the results about the benefits of physical activity for kids just keep coming. Here’s a new one: more physical education at school means not only better motor skills, but also better grades.
A recent Swedish study followed 220 students in grades one to three for nine years. The intervention group received scheduled physical education five days a week (as well as extra motor training). Results of diagnostic tests as well as motor skills such as balance and coordination were recorded.
The study concluded that physical education sharpens kids’ motor skills and learning ability. According to the researchers, the differences between the intervention group and the control group were “significant”—especially among boys.
Specifically, some of the study’s results were:
- 96 percent of the total intervention group compared to 89 percent in the total control group were eligible to go on to upper-secondary school based on their grades.
- 96 percent of the intervention group boys compared to 83 percent in the control group boys were eligible to go on to upper-secondary school based on their grades.
- 93 percent of the students in the intervention group, when they reached grade 9, demonstrated good motor skills compared to 53 percent in the control group.
How much physical activity do kids need?
Canadian guidelines state that:
- children aged five to 17 need at least an hour of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day, every day
- children fewer than five years old need 180 minutes of physical activity a day, every day
However, according to Statistics Canada, less than 7 percent of Canadian children meet these recommendations.
And even though schools have physical education classes, that’s not enough either. According to Active Healthy Kids Canada, most Canadian provinces don’t have mandatory physical education up until the end of high school, and “there are discrepancies between PE time mandated and PE time implemented in schools.”
Get kids active! (And that doesn’t mean just ball sports.)
Physical & Health Education Canada recommends dancing as a great physical activity for kids. Along with promoting a healthy weight and stronger lungs, heart, and muscles, it improves coordination, agility, balance, flexibility, spatial awareness, and confidence. For some exotic varieties, check out belly dancing or salsa.