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How Physical Activity Will Help Children Perform Better In School

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Children with increased participation in sport and other forms of physical activity enhance cognitive function, memory, concentration, behavior, and academic achievement. Exercising for children is different from adults. Most can complete the recommended daily amount by playing games, taking part in extracurricular activities, and participating in a team sport, which are all easy ways of ensuring your kid enjoys being active.

How does physical activity enhance academic performance? Let's find out how playing sports and teambuilding events benefits your body and your brain.

How Does Physical Activity Improve Academic Performance?

Does physical activity influence academic performance? Yes! Studies consistently demonstrate that physically active kids are healthier and perform better on cerebral or intellectual ability tests.

Boost Concentration

Concentration is the ability to focus on a task and ignore distractions. Boosting concentration requires improving two cognitive functions: sustained attention and executive function. Research shows that young people with higher fitness levels display better concentration levels than those less fit. This indicates a correlation between physical activity and academic performance.

School can also be especially excruciating for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because of the need to sit still and listen. Structured exercise — in the form of obstacle courses, ballet, summer camps, and martial arts, for example, challenges the body and the brain, helping kids with ADHD to cultivate better focus and concentration.

Improved Mood

Sport and brain performance

The relationship between school sports and academic performance shouldn’t be taken lightly. When kids exercise, their dopamine and serotonin levels increase, making them calmer and happier. Vigorous exercise enhances neural growth, reduces inflammation, and promotes new activity patterns, boosting feelings of calm and well-being.

Positive emotions broaden awareness and encourage exploratory thoughts and actions. They make individuals more likely to notice details of their surroundings and improve the ability to generate solutions that require thinking beyond immediate contexts. Mindful awareness of the present environment can produce a state of “flow” where optimal engagement and concentration are reached.

Higher Self-Esteem

When kids exercise regularly, they build confidence and improve body image. Setting small and large fitness goals, and achieving them, makes children feel better about themselves and their abilities. As they master new skills and witness their improvements, their confidence grows. A study by the International Journal of Sport Psychology found regular exercise was a highly effective way of building self-confidence for those who stuck to a consistent routine for over six months.

Brain and sports performance are intrinsically linked to higher-self esteem. A child needn’t be a natural or even top-performing athlete to reap the benefits. As little as two hours per week of exercise can make them happier, more confident, and less stressed. For kids, it’s also important to keep physical activity fun by taking classes or joining sports teams.

Improved Blood Flow

Exercise improves blood vessel flexibility because it forces it to flow faster and creates turbulence against artery walls, which helps maintain flexibility. Younger veins are relatively plastic, but as we age or neglect to exercise, they become more rigid and prone to cardiovascular disease. Increasing circulation is an excellent place to start to safeguard general heart health.

More than that, researchers have found improved blood flow benefits of physical activity on academic performance, simply because exercise helps cognition by increasing blood and oxygen to flow to the brain. More blood means more energy and oxygen, which allows the brain to perform better.

Enhanced Learning Skills

Physical activity - cycling

Sport and brain performance have a symbiotic relationship. Correlation studies indicate a significant positive predictor of academic achievement with higher physical fitness. Children who play sports don’t just fare better academically but also learn to control their emotions and constructively channel negative feelings. Therefore, increasing their emotional intelligence.

However, physical activity affects academic performance adversely if a child consistently over-exerts themselves. Chronic exhaustion disrupts how brain cells communicate with each other, which causes memory lapses and poor concentration. As with all things in life, moderation is key.

How Much Should Your Child Exercise?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children and adolescents six years and older get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity a day to truly leverage sports and brain development. Activities to improve academic performance include running, biking, as well as muscle and bone-strengthening exercises at least three times a week.

At Mission Grit, we utilize a revolutionary training program called the SPIRIT™ method to create a positive and engaging fitness experience for children. Our structured activities achieve the balance between physical activity and cognitive problem-solving. Because we understand the profound effect of physical activity on academic performance, kids who join our programs take part in educational games, scenario-based quests, obstacle courses, and high-energy exercises that positively impact sports and school performance.


Just as children need to be taught to read and write, they also need to learn fundamental gross motor skills to hone sports and school performance. There is little dispute that physical activity improves brain power, motivation, concentration, memory and reason, classroom attitude and behaviors, and language skills.

If you want to improve your kid’s physical activity and academic performance, then sign them up for a free trial class at Mission Grit in Charlotte. We have classes suitable for K to 8th grade. Find out more about our revolutionary training philosophy and the benefits of our vigorous yet fun activities today!


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