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Sports puts the “learning while doing” concept to use. Whether it is scoring a goal in football or shooting a ball in the basketball net, or hitting the shuttlecock at the right time during a game of badminton, all require focus. Sport teaches you how important timing is. It also boosts our observational skills. It makes our brain work faster by making us take decisions about movement, striking, changing direction etc. We try to understand the opponent’s strategy. We try to predict their next move. And all of this requires focus and reminds us of the need to focus in order to win or do well. Team sports are about so much more than their physical benefits. This is especially so when group sports activities are incorporated into a young person’s life. Studies have shown a direct correlation between physical activity and academic performance. A University of Kansas study looking at the performance of students in grades 9 to 12 showed that more than 97% of student-athletes graduated high school, 10% higher than those students who had never participated in sports. Athletes were also shown to have better G.P.A. outcomes than non-athletes. This might have to do with the increased cognitive ability that comes from playing sports.
Physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain and activates endorphins, chemicals that are released when you exercise. Endorphins can impact your mood and work performance, meaning athletes may be more willing and capable of tackling that next big problem. Given that the brain is responsible for both mental processes and physical actions of the human body, brain health is important across the lifespan. In adults, brain health, representing the absence of disease and optimal structure and function, is measured in terms of quality of life and effective functioning in activities of daily living. In children, brain health can be measured in terms of the successful development of attention, on-task behavior, memory, and academic performance in an educational setting. This chapter reviews the findings of recent research regarding the contribution of engagement in physical activity and the attainment of a health-enhancing level of physical fitness to cognitive and brain health in children.
Correlational research examining the relationship among academic performance, physical fitness, and physical activity also is described. Because research in older adults has served as a model for understanding the effects of physical activity and fitness on the developing brain during childhood, adult research is briefly discussed. The short- and long-term cognitive benefits of both a single session of and regular participation in physical activity are summarized. Team sports can also help with emotional development. Research published by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute states that exercise can lead to a unique state of short-term relaxation. That relaxation can promote increased concentration, better memory, enhanced creativity, more effective problem solving, and an improved mood — all benefits that will extend into the classroom. Team athletes are constantly working with a slate of other people, many of whom can become positive role models along the way. Team sports foster mentorship between older players and younger players, coaches, and athletes, and more. Coaches, in particular, can play an important role in a young athlete’s life. Players who have positive sports mentors when they’re young are also more likely to seek effective role models throughout their life. Several studies have proven that being active and playing sports improve a child’s academic performance. A study conducted among Nebraska students from grade four to grade eight determined that the more aerobically fit a child was, the better his grades were.
According to the Institute of Medicine, California, students who did not fall into a “healthy fitness zone” did not score as well academically as students who were fit. Another paper “Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance” by François Trudeau and Roy J Shephard published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2008 concludes: “Given competent providers, physical activity can be added to the school curriculum by taking time from other subjects without risk of hindering student academic achievement. On the other hand, adding time to “academic” or “curricular” subjects by taking time from physical education programmes does not enhance grades in these subjects and may be detrimental to health.
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