Can science really confirm that physical activity affects the way we learn? Absolutely. Studies have proven that physical movement helps kids improve their memory, increase their motivation, and improve motor skills. But the connection to how the brain and physical activity work together goes much deeper. Movement and physical activity truly helps kids think and learn differently.
A researcher at Columbia University, found direct connections between physical activity and brain health. Exercise was proven to:
- Increase the number of neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Improve oxygen flow to the brain.
- Increase the number of neurotransmitters, improving the child’s ability to handle stress, reduce anxiety, increase focus, concentrate, and learn new things.
- Alter the brain’s development. The number of neurotrophins–the proteins that signal neurons to develop, grow, and thrive–increases in the brain in areas like the cortex, cerebellum, and hippocampus that are critical for learning, memory, and higher thinking.
Physical activity can also create new brain cells. Decades ago, science believed that neurons were only generated at birth, but we now know that physical activity can create new neurons through neurogenesis as we exercise. Simply put, researchers confirmed exercise helps maintain the “ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections.”
If exercise can improve the brain’s ability to reorganize functions and connections, that leads to even more intellectual benefits, like increased ability to stay attentive, improved motor skills, improved hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and better decision making.
Ironically, when kids are involved in physical activity, their vestibular system is engaged–that part of our senses that controls, balance, posture, motion, and position of the body itself–allowing kids to control their bodies better as they sit still throughout the rest of their day.
We already know that cognitive skills like the ability to concentrate, and academic performance are impacted by physical activity. But when we incorporate group activities, other softer skills are enhanced as well that lead to psychological benefits. As kids are developing interpersonal skills, learning social inclusion, teamwork, and motivation, they can use these not just in the classroom, but at home, and later in their academic careers. These soft skills help them see classmates and situations through a different lens.
If kids can sit still, focus, increase brain activity, and creatively problem solve by incorporating simple physical activities in a portion of their day, why wouldn’t we give them that opportunity and set them up for a lifetime of success? If educators have a solution to improve their brain, body, and soul, transforming the way they think and learn in every other class… and make it fun, engaging, and encouraging? We should do everything in our power to set future generations up for success, especially when the solution is readily available.
How Skillastics® can help
The body invisibly increases these physio and psychological super powers without the need to check a box or flip a switch. It works quietly, in the background. Skillastics® works in the background too. Your kids won’t know their brains are growing, their neurons are thriving, their social skills are improving, or your after-school martial arts program helps them focus better in World History, but you will. For the past twenty years, our incredible activity kits have offered a simple, fun solution that’s engaging for every physical activity level, so even kids who aren’t that interested in team sports will love to participate. Our digital specialty programming, like Pilates, Folklorico, and Basketball can help kids achieve personal goals as they work to master new skills.
Skillastics® has multiple solutions to fit your physical activity program needs. If you’re not sure what you need, let us know. We can sit down with you to fully customize a physical activity program just for you.
P.S. Did you read where Skillastics® is celebrating our 20th Anniversary this year? We are so excited to have partnered with physical education leaders, bringing joy and fun back to movement for two decades! To express our gratitude, this year we’re giving away some amazing, highly coveted prizes every quarter. That’s 20 opportunities to win! To enter and see the full contest rules click here.