Compelling evidence suggests that exercising regularly is not only good for a child’s physical health but has great benefits for their mind too. Research has shown that children who do physical activities are more productive, are able to better manage their time, and are more motivated in their studies.
Some of the benefits of incorporating regular exercise into your child’s routine include;
- Improved Concentration
- Sharper memory
- Faster learning
- Prolonged mental stamina
- Lower Stress and anxiety
- Enhanced creativity
Children learn better when they want to learn and when they are self-motivated. Enrolling a child in a flexible and personalised schooling environment, like CambriLearn, allows for more effective and conscious learning routines and frees up more time for kids to do daily exercise.
Productivity and performance
Improved productivity is a by-product of both the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise. Exercise improves student productivity by increasing blood, glucose and oxygen levels in the brain. This leads to being more alert and receptive, sharpening our awareness, and helping us to focus on our tasks and think more clearly.
Scientists suspect that exercise alters the biology of the brain in ways that make it more malleable and receptive to new information, a process that scientists refer to as plasticity. It also increases the size of the hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning), aids brain cell health and thickens your cerebral cortex which is known to be associated with human intellectual ability and general intelligence.
Based on research conducted by Harvard University, it was found that exercising boosts mental abilities such as enhanced creativity, quicker learning, sharper memory and improved concentration. Enhancing our cognitive (memory & concentration) processes through exercise enables us to soak in more information, work more efficiently and be more productive.
Exercise also benefits other forms of cognitive performance including multi-tasking, concentration, alertness, and decision-making - all of which are essential elements for productive and focused learning. Our physical regimen and efficient learning schedules have also been shown to mitigate some of the effects of the post-afternoon slump, where productivity and focus can be harder to maintain.
Briston University conducted a study using a sample of 200 employees at three different types of organisations. The employees evaluated output on a day with exercise and a day without. It was established that on days when participants worked out, they experienced 21% higher concentration, 22% higher for meeting deadlines, and 41% for feeling more motivated to complete their work. The same results can be applied to the classroom as students who exercise regularly show increased productivity and performance.
In addition to sharpening mental performance, regular physical activity improves time-management skills, which in turn improves your ability to meet deadlines. It has been reported that exercising on schooldays can boost one’s time management skills and daily completed workload by 72%.
Natural mood enhancer
Regular exercise can improve your well-being beyond the physical perks, by enhancing your mood and attitude. It also potentially improves a child’s ability to act as a team player. Studies by McKenna university have found that people who exercise regularly are less likely to lose their tempers with others. With this in mind, feeling irritable is no longer simply an inconvenience - it can directly influence the degree to which a child is successful.
Working out releases feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins and serotonin, and reduces the circulation of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. This helps students to manage their stress and anxiety. Stressed-out students have trouble focusing, thinking clearly, and making rational decisions. Whereas students who exercise report positive effects including increased tolerance, lessened tempers, relieved anxiety and depression, heightened morale and a greater sense of calmness.
Productivity is also known to increase how good a person feels. One study indicated that people who were in a good mood tended to produce better work and be nearly 10% more productive overall. Ultimately, students who exercise report that they simply feel more productive and more satisfied than those who don't.
Exercising lowers the physical effects of stress which often results in tense muscles, painful headaches, or a sore neck. With physical activity, our muscles relax, inflammation is reduced and tension is relieved throughout the body.
Exercise can also increase motivation at a chemical level with the release of dopamine. The dopamine hormone energises and encourages happiness. Researchers now believe that dopamine is also partially responsible for motivation and persistence when chasing goals. In addition, choosing to take part in physical exercise has real physiological benefits by teaching us persistence and building resilience, not just for your next exercise session, but for life in general.
An underrated cure for burnout
With the never-ending pressure being placed on children in a traditional schooling environment, student burnout has become a more common issue. Exercise has been recommended by psychologists to treat student burnout. Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, demotivation, and a drop in productivity. One study identified that "cardiovascular exercise was found to increase well-being and decrease psychological distress, perceived stress, and emotional exhaustion." The study concluded that exercise is a great way of helping learners recover from burnout.
Although it might seem contradictory, one of the best ways to battle fatigue is to work out. Exercising can actually give you more energy and help children avoid the afternoon crash. Researchers have found that exercise can decrease chronic fatigue and provide children with more energy. Our energy levels are an important indicator of well-being and engagement. Exercise improves circulation and strengthens the heart muscle, providing an instant rush of energy.
When our bodies are physically active, our energy capacity increases. Specifically, every time you exercise and push yourself a bit harder than you did the last time, your body recovers, and your energy capacity is increased.
In particular, working out in the morning gives you an instant sense of accomplishment which can last for the remainder of the day. This sense of accomplishment can give you more energy to tackle other tasks in the afternoon. According to John Hopkins Medicine, exercise helps a person fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. Research has found that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep, that a person gets. This allows the brain and body to rejuvenate better and thus reduces fatigue.
Creative breakthroughs and novel solutions to problems
Exercise can facilitate creative thinking and help students find innovative solutions to difficult problems. A 2013 study by cognitive psychologist Professor Lorenza Colzato found that people who exercised four times a week were more able to think creatively than people who did not exercise. She noted that “Exercising on a regular basis acts as a cognitive enhancer, promoting creativity in inexpensive and healthy ways.”.
In the educational context, countless researchers have seen improvements in student time management, productivity, focus, and personability as a result of participating in exercise interventions. Much like we prioritise a big project or deadline, we need to make time for our children’s physical health.
Instead of viewing exercise as something we do as a ‘reward’—a personal indulgence that takes a child away from a desk —it is time that we start considering physical activity as part of schoolwork itself. The alternative, which involves processing information more slowly, forgetting more often, and getting easily frustrated, makes students less effective and motivated in their studies.
What kids do outside of schoolwork is just as significant for productivity as what they do while learning, and as it turns out, the positive effects of exercise also spill over into the classroom.
At CambriLearn we want to see you thrive beyond the curriculum, we embrace a fit and healthy lifestyle and we encourage kids to take time to regularly exercise and view exercise as a part of their daily lives! By transitioning to an online learning platform, children are able to enjoy the benefits associated with a personalised and flexible education which promotes improved mental and physical well-being.