Peak performance in children, or in anyone, is the ability to do one’s best in the best of physical conditions. To get the most out of yourself, you must be in peak physical and mental condition. According to SPARK author John Ratey, MD, physical activity is similar to medicine. We know that exercise improves executive functions such as sequencing, memory, and prioritizing, all of which contribute to academic and life success. Simply put, physical activity in the classroom prepares the brain for learning.
Endorphins (chemicals in the brain that regulate mood, pleasure, and pain) are produced during physical activity. An elevated mood can contribute to a “I can do it” attitude, which can go a long way in helping students view new tasks as challenges rather than obstacles.
Academics and Physical Activity
Physical activity also has academic benefits. The California Department of Education compared students’ health fitness scores on the FITNESSGRAM to student scores on standardized math and language arts tests. Fit kids “scored twice as well on academic tests as those who were unfit,” they discovered.
Elementary students who participate in sports are more likely to become active teenagers, who are more likely to become active adults. And, according to the World Health Organization, being active is one of the most important ways to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of other debilitating diseases.
Healthy people not only have a better quality of life, but the economy benefits from cost savings and productivity gains associated with workplace wellness.
School sports and intramurals play an important role in keeping students active in the classroom.
Tips for Supporting Healthy Active Living in Families
- Set time limits for children and teenagers to spend in front of a screen (that includes television, computers, tablets, video games, and smartphones). Limit total daily screen time for children aged 2 to 5 years to less than 1 hour. Screen time is not advised for children under the age of two.
- Playing organized sports (such as soccer or hockey) is insufficient to keep children and youth healthy. Encourage your child or teen to be physically active every day by walking or cycling to a friend’s house, skipping rope, or playing in a local park or playground.
- If you drive your children to school, try walking or forming a walking club with your neighbors.
- Encourage your children to walk instead of taking the escalator or elevator.
- Get your child involved in housework such as carrying groceries, raking leaves, or shoveling snow.
- Ensure that children and adolescents wear protective equipment when participating in activities such as cycling, skating, skateboarding, soccer, and other physical activities.
- Remember to set a good example!
To improve peak performance with age, physical training should begin as early as three months.
The Content is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions about a medical condition, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider.