It’s a well known fact that children who are active typically have a healthier mental and physical life. But what you may not know is that studies are suggesting now that children who are active will have better brain health and will perform better academically. It’s not just any physical activity either. Studies suggest that it’s a specific type of exercise that creates healthy brains. Studies conducted in Spain determined that in order for children to do well in school they needed to engage in exercise that pushed their cardio-respiratory capacity as well as their motor ability.
In Spain they tested this theory based off of three different ways of exercising, those exercises being cardioid-respiratory capacity, motor ability and muscular strength. All three were studied differently and separately to determine which ones were more effective in brain development and academic learning capabilities. They then went on to study combining some of them to determine if more than one together caused better academic performance.
When the study was completed research showed that the best forms of physical activity that are linked to academic performance was motor ability and cardio-respiratory capacity.
The study followed 2,038 Spanish children between the ages of 6-18 and collected data on their physical activity levels as well as their academic performance and body composition to get the best results possible.
So what is cardio-respiratory capacity and motor ability?
Cardio-respiratory is defined as the how much fuel and oxygen the heart and lungs can supply to your muscles during exercise. They determined this in the study by having all participants do a shuttle run or “bleep” tests which is what they commonly used to determine aerobic fitness.
Motor ability is determined by a participants speed of movement, how coordinated they are and their levels of agility. They also used the shuttle run for these tests. When it came to determining muscular strength they had participants do exercises that included measuring their maximum hand grip as well as standing long jumps.
Once they determined the childrens level of physical activity they assessed their academic performance. They did this by comparing the childrens end-of-year school grades. What they determined was that cardio-respiratory capacity and motor ability had a great deal to do with how well children did academically.
Throughout their studies they determined that cardio-respiratory capacity and motor ability whether conducted separately or together were linked to academic performance. Although both are a great way to improve academic performance they found that motor ability showed greater results. The study suggested that agility, coordination and speed of movement were more important that cardio based exercises.
They found that children and adolescents who had lower grades also had lower levels of cardio-respiratory capacity and motor ability. The studies they conducted on muscular strength showed no link between strength training and academic performance. Results were only found for motor ability and cardio-respiratory.
Spanish studies suggested that due to the results there should be more effort made to promote physical activity in the lives of children. In order to improve grades children need to be physically active as it also works to improve brain activity. Children and adolescents should be encouraged to use motor skills in order to develop coordination and agility. They should also be doing forms of physical activity that is considered to be aerobic.