Most of us grew up hearing stereotypes about ‘dumb jocks.’ Turns out, however, that student athletes are more likely to be smarter than their more lethargic counterparts.
In fact, research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and elsewhere demonstrates that kids who are physically active – particularly in youth sports – are more than twice as likely to get straight-A’s as less active kids.
In another study by the University of North Texas, kids with healthy hearts and lungs were more likely to perform well in math and reading. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that student athletes are generally more receptive to learning, fare better on tests, and don’t stress under the pressure of tests and exams as much as others.
Of of which is important at a time when so many schools are cutting back on organized sports and even good old-fashioned ‘gym’ class – stretches of time when kids historically got a lot of their exercise. In fact, the CDC recommends at least 60 minutes of hearty physical activity for kids, especially teens. It’s been found that kids who receive mostly Ds and Fs rarely if every participate in sports and other physical activity.
Ironically, many parents who want their kids to excel academically will choose NOT to have their kids participate in sports, mistakenly believing that such activities will steal time from their studies. Similarly, some parents keep kids away from traditional sports – e.g. football, basketball, soccer – due to concerns over concussions and other sports-related injuries.
Yet studies confirm just the opposite: that kids who have the opportunity to take part in sports and other physical exercise will do better in the long term. And remember, an active lifestyle doesn’t mean a child has to bash into others wearing pads. Dance, for example, is an outstanding mode of exercise (among other benefits).
In one such study published in January 2012 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, participation in physical activity was directly correlated to strong academic performance in children.
And in another study, it was demonstrated that in schools where children are provided daily exercise through Physical Education or related programs, test scores were higher. Specifically, over a three-year period students’ academic achievement improved so long as they were permitted physical exercise during regular school hours. Elementary-aged children who received ‘active breaks’ demonstrated stronger focus on subjects.
The bottom line: Parents need to ensure their kids are physically active and schools need to provide such outlets for their students.