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Want to See Better Report Cards for Your Kids? Let Them Play!


The benefits of regular physical activity for children are many. Now researchers are consistently finding a link between regular exercise and better academic performance.

How do you help your children improve their school grades? Send them out to play! This seems to be the message coming out of research into the association between exercise and academic performance.

The evidence

Past reviews of research have found a link, which they believe may be due to exercise increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. A new review by Dutch researchers, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, states, “… we found evidence of a significant longitudinal positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance.”

The Dutch systematic review looked at 10 observational studies (where subjects are compared against a control group and researchers have no control over the experiment) and four intervention studies (where one group of subjects receives the intervention and one doesn’t). Though they didn’t provide quantitative results, they did report that they have “found evidence that participation in physical activity is positively associated with academic performance in young people.”

The other benefits of play

Of course, there are plenty of reasons—other than a good report card—why kids should go out and play. Regular physical activity:

  • develops cardiovascular fitness
  • improves strength and bone density
  • establishes active habits early in childhood that are more likely to become lifelong habits
  • helps prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease later in life
  • increases concentration
  • improves self-esteem
  • improves posture and balance
  • reduces stress


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