- Written by Peace Loise Mbae
Physical exercise is undoubting important to children development since it enables muscle growth and fends off obesity, however, studies say exercise may also enable kids to improve their grades in school.
This is because physical exercise enables brain growth, and boosts cognitive performance which makes kids learn and focus better.
“Children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active,” said a research on fitness and obesity by Christian K. Roberts et. Al.
In the study, nearly 2,000 California schoolchildren who were outside a “healthy fitness zone” — a 12-year-old who took longer than 12 minutes to run a mile and was outside the zone — scored lower on the standardized state tests than those who were fitter.
A similar study conducted in Nebraska in 2013 on aerobics and reading outcomes assessed the fitness of schoolchildren in a shuttle run, in which kids run a back-and-forth lap in a set time. Kids who performed best on this test had scored higher on both the math and reading portions of standardized state exams.
In Kenya, physical exercise classes are part of the education curriculum but not necessarily emphasized especially in public schools.
This being backed by a research by Kenyatta University on the Prevalence and Risk Factors for Obesity among school-aged children in Nairobi which says 25.6 per cent of school-aged going children in Nairobi are obese.
The fitness instructor Chiki who runs a dance program for kids says dance is great for children because physically healthy children perform significantly better at school as it helps them develop cognitively and develop their concentration skills.”
A 2011 study by the Medical College of Georgia Research Institute surveyed 111 inactive, overweight kids, age 7 to 11, and asked them to participate in an after-school exercise program, that involved them being active for 20 minutes. Another 60 kids, also overweight, were wait-listed and served as controls.
“After 13 weeks of the study, we found that the kids in the exercise program performed better than the controls on tests of mental tasks such as planning, organizing and strategizing, as well as on standardized math tests,” read the research.
This an indication that physical exercise is more than play time for children and should be encouraged in school and homes as well.