Fitter kids really do better. Physiologically, fitter kids have larger brain structures. Academically, fitter kids are smarter kids – they perform better at school.
Several research studies have pointed to a positive correlation between high level of physical fitness, cognition and academic performance among American and Australian elementary and middle school students.
• Researchers from the California Department of Education studied nearly one million grade five, seven and nine students in 2002.
Finding: Students with higher level of physical fitness had higher SAT-9 scores, particularly, in reading and mathematics.
• Researchers from the Australian National University studied 757 children from age 8 to 12 in 29 elementary schools in 2012 (Pediatric Exercise Science 2012).
Finding: Fitter kids are smarter kids. They had higher literacy and numeracy scores.
• Researchers from the Michigan State University, USA studied 312 sixth to eighth grade students at a West Michigan school (Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2012).
Finding: The fittest children had the best grades and test scores.
Some researchers however, stressed that for physical activity to have a positive impact on a student’s academic performance, it must be aerobic in nature and of sufficient level of intensity and duration.
Physical Activities You Can Do With Your Kids
Fitter kids do make smarter kids. Aim for three hours of movement or physical exercise a day if your child is under five.
Developing Locomotor skills
• Get your child to try different kinds of walk: walk fast, walk slow and walk on tip toes
• Play chasing games to get your child running from one point to another
• Get your child to imitate the physical movements of animals. For instance, ask your child to gallop like a horse in the playground or hop like a kangaroo.
Developing Manipulative skills
• Get your child to create objects using Lego sets and construction toys
• Practise ball skills with your child. Get your child to throw a ball and catch it from you
• Encourage your child to build the highest tower by stacking up wooden blocks
Developing Balance skills
Two fun exercises to help your preschooler develop balance and coordination skills:
• Animal Action
Get your child to imitate the actions of different animals such as hopping on all fours like a rabbit, flapping your arms like a bird and “flying” around obstacles, or sliding on the ground like a snake.
Teach your preschooler how to pedal with their feet on a bicycle. Provide physical help as your child as they learn to balance and pedal.
Too busy to have more play time with your kids? Enrolling your preschooler in a physical exercise programme that progressively introduces sports and physical activities of increasing intensity will ensure that your child gets sufficient physical activity - to be fitter and smarter kids.