Exercise 'Boosts Kids' Brain Power And Academic Skill' Consensus Statement Reveals

'Physical activity should be incorporated into school life.'

Exercise boosts kids’ brain power and academic skill, says a consensus statement on physical activity in schools, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Time taken away from lessons for physical activity is "time well spent" and does not come at the cost of getting good grades, the 24 signatories said.

The consensus includes 21 separate statements on the four themes of fitness and health, intellectual performance, engagement, motivation and wellbeing, and social inclusion.

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The consensus statement concluded:

  • Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children’s and young people’s brain development and function as well as their intellect

  • A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess

  • A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance

  • Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance

  • Time taken away from lessons in favour of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades.

The statement was drawn up by a panel of international experts with a wide range of specialisms, from the UK, Scandinavia, and North America, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

From 4 to 7 April 2016, 24 researchers from eight countries gathered to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity in children.

The participants then reached agreement on the 21-item consensus statement.

In terms of the physiological benefits of exercise, it says cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness “are strong predictors” of the risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes in later life.

It also said frequent moderate intensity and, to a lesser extent, low intensity exercise will still help improve kids’ heart health and their metabolism.

Regular physical activity will also "help develop important life skills and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing".

And just as importantly, activities that take account of culture and context can "promote social inclusion for those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation, skill levels and physical capacity".

The signatories concluded incorporating physical activity into every aspect of school life and providing protected public spaces, such as bike lanes, parks and playgrounds “are both effective strategies for providing equitable access to, and enhancing physical activity for, children and youth."

View the full, 21-item statement here.

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