Exercise & Learning Go Hand in Hand
Enjoy this week’s blog post brought to you by South Asian Women’s Magazine
Want better grades for your kids next
school year? Forget about asking them to
just hit the books. According to research,
for better grades, students should be
hitting the gym!
Extensive research into exercise and
learning shows that students who exercise
regularly are more likely to perform better
on tests, have improved concentration
and memory, and also get better grades.
The facts are clear: study after study
proves that fitter bodies mean fitter
brains. And that means better thinking
and learning, which means better grades.
It makes sense: the more exercise the
body gets, the more blood is pumped into
the brain, causing healthy cells to grow
and neural connections to get stronger.
But not only does increased blood flow in
the brain strengthen neural connections,
it can also result in a process known as
neurogenesis — the regrowth of neurons
in the brain.
However, getting better grades through
physical activity may not be as easy as it
sounds. The annual Active Healthy Kids
Canada Report Card states that only seven
per cent of Canadian youth are getting
the recommended 60 minutes of physical
activity per day, and that the average child
spends 63 per cent of their free time being
idle. The Report Card recommends that
children aged 5-19 get at least 60 minutes
of physical activity every day for optimal
That doesn’t mean that all students
need to be captain of the football team
to reap the academic benefits of exercise.
It simply means that students of all ages,
grades and physical abilities should, in
some form, incorporate physical fitness
into their daily or weekly routines.
There are studies that even show
that moving around while studying —
incorporating physical activity into an
otherwise sedentary act — activates more
areas of the brain, giving information
more ”sticking” power.
But regular exercise doesn’t just help
the body and the brain; regular exercise
increases neurotransmitters such as
dopamine and serotonin, which decrease
feelings of depression and elevate moods,
helping students to adopt a positive
attitude to learning.
Along with proper sleep and good
nutrition, physical activity is an important
part of a healthy and well-rounded
academic lifestyle. The more fit a student
is, the better nourished his or her brain
In different studies, physical activity in
students has been linked to:
• improved memory
• better test scores
• quicker mental processing
• high math grades
• better performance on standardized
• improved ability to focus and
• improved concentration.
School and sports don’t have to be
one versus the other — after-school
supplemental education for students will
help them develop thinking and learning
skills that pay off both in the classroom
and on the sports field. This is true, not
only throughout the school year but also
A graduate of UBC with a degree
in sociology and psychology,
Shaheen also completed a business
administration program at BCIT. She
currently owns and operates the
South Surrey Oxford Learning Centre.
She is eager to witness students learn
new concepts, build confidence and
take risks. This is how students build
self-esteem and life-long learning.
Educating children is her passion!
Exercise & Learning Go Hand in Hand
By Shaheen Fazal
SAWCareer, Education & Parenting
With two months of school-free time
stretched out in front of students, summer
is more than a break from academia, it’s
an opportunity to make real strides to
improve not only grades but learning
routines and habits, study skills, reading
comprehension, active thinking abilities,
math understanding and application, etc.
But shouldn’t students relax and have fun
over summer? True, but an entire summer
spent lazing can result in substantial stress
come September. And summer learning
has additional benefits beyond tackling
your child’s problem areas: catching up
and getting ahead can increase your child’s
confidence heading into the next grade,
making any personal or educational goal
achievable. There are many academic
activities that can be done. These can
• reading over last year’s notebooks,
and discussing favourite subjects and
remarking on highlights from last grade
• starting a reading log and summarizing
the best parts or what will happen next
• tackling a few math problems
• reviewing an old essay or book report
• writing a few short paragraphs
• playing with flash cards
• starting a summer journal and adding
favourite summer pictures.
By ensuring that students are involved
in both sports activities as well as
academic activities, this summer will
make for good fall preparation. Students
will be ready to work hard again in the fall,
and will have had a chance to activate the
body and the mind in the months leading
to the new school year.
So, while you are planning your
children’s summer and fall activities,
remember to plan for both sports and
academics. Make a difference this year by
balancing both! You won’t regret it!