While being physically active can increase numerous health benefits such as preserving muscular strength, maintaining a healthy weight, and fighting a variety of chronic diseases. It also becomes important to know the benefits that it has on children’s critical thinking and concentration during Online Schooling.
“… happy and stress-free children with the added benefit of great academic performance!”
How Being Physically Active Improves Learning
Since learners need to sit in front of a device for long periods at a time to complete their Online Schooling, it becomes crucial that physical activity is encouraged during the day or in between lessons. Here are some benefits of being physically active and how it impacts learning:
Energy, focus and sleep
Being physically active makes your body and muscles work harder, which makes your heart pump more blood throughout your body. By pumping more blood throughout our bodies, we get more oxygen to our brain. This improves alertness, attention, and motivation. Learners will feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, retain new information better, and have an overall positive attitude during the day.
Boost your mood and reduce stress
As a parent it is important to know that learners do sometimes experience stress due to numerous factors, one of those being school. Stress will have an impact of how a learner performs overall academically. While a learner experiences long periods of stress it creates high levels of the hormone cortisol “stress hormone”, which influences the student’s ability to concentrate, retain new information and the learner will experience a decreased motivation to complete work. It is important that a learner gets rid of excess stress by doing physical activities during the week. This will trigger the endorphin hormone “happy hormone” in our bodies. This hormone helps us to feel more positive and energized which will ultimately help improve academic performance.
Being physically active helps to release beneficial proteins in the brain. These proteins help keep your brain cells healthy and promotes the growth of new neurons. Neurons transmit information throughout your body and can be seen as the overall building blocks.
How Much Physical Activity Is Enough?
It is important that learners do enough physical activity throughout the week. So, how much is enough? It is suggested that kids/teens do at least 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
Young children should not be inactive for more than one hour at a time, unless it’s due to sleeping and school-age children shouldn’t be inactive for more than two hours at a time.
It is important to encourage children to be active form a young age. However, the time spent on being active as well as the activities will depend on the child’s age. Here are some examples of physical activities that are age appropriate:
Children who are not yet walking:
Physical activity will be any type of movement at this stage. For example:
- Tummy time, rolling or reaching for toys.
- Water-based activities.
- Limiting time spent in car seats or carriers.
Children under 5 who are walking:
Physical activity per day should be at least 180 minutes (three hours). This can be in the form of free play and doesn’t have to occur all at once. It should be spread out during the day. Some examples of physical activities include:
- Running or playing.
- Throwing and catching games.
- Climbing obstacle courses.
- Using a scooter.
- Help walking the dog.
- Playing on the trampoline.
Children between the ages of 5-18 years:
It is suggested that children that fall into this category take part in moderate to vigorous physical activities for 60 minutes or more per day. Examples are:
- Briskly walking the dog around the block.
- Riding a bike.
- Taking part in group sport such as: netball, rugby, swimming, or cricket.
- Body resistance exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups.
As a parent it is important that when your child is busy being active that they are safe and using the correct equipment. It is also important to take any medical conditions into consideration before letting them take part in physical activities.
Tips To Start Being Physically Active
Being physically active is something that should be planned carefully. Choose a routine that will be easy for your child to follow regularly or even daily. It is a good idea to vary the amount of time being active as well as the activity. Here are some tips:
- Choose an activity that your child will enjoy. Being active should be fun.
- Create a schedule or write it on their calendar. (Especially have them take breaks every two hours. This is a good time to get active!)
- Make sure your child does a variety of activities. We certainly don’t want them to get bored.
- Being physically active shouldn’t break the bank. Sometimes all they need is some free play outside. This way they will get in their Vitamin-D as well!
- Get active with them and help them stick to it!
It can be challenging to get children to be more active. But, by being supportive and giving them the freedom to explore a variety of activities they will be able to find something they will enjoy. In the end we want happy and stress-free children with the added benefit of great academic performance!
- Bruce, D. F., PhD. (2008, May 30). Exercise and Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Physical activity basics, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/
- Gavin, MD, M. L. (2018, June). Kids and Exercise (for Parents) – Nemours Kidshealth. Nemours Kids Health. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercise.html
- Great Ormond Street Hospital. (2013, May 29). Exercise for children and young people. GOSH Hospital Site. https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/conditions-and-treatments/general-health-advice/leading-active-lifestyle/exercise-children-and-young-people/
- Harvard Health. (2021, February 15). Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-can-boost-your-memory-and-thinking-skills