The benefits of exercise for school children
Coming into winter the weather is getting cooler, the days shorter and the mist and rain is moving in. When the seasons change it becomes more difficult for students to exercise at school safely due to unfavourable conditions outside. It is easy for school children to be deprived of physical activity during periods of bad weather because of the lack of covered areas. It is important that schools understand how exercise affects students learning when considering the investment of a covered over learning area (COLA) structure.
Exercise can improve learning
Studies have produced findings showing the link between physical exercise and performance of the human brain. Exercise optimises your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation. Secondly it prepares and prompts nerve cells to bind together which is the cellular basis for logging new information and finally, exercise spurs the development of new cells. Physical activity in essence helps the brain get ready to learn and then makes retaining information easier.
It has been found that students who are fit and healthy have a higher chance of achieving better results at school as physical activity has a direct correlation with better memory, higher concentration and improved classroom behaviour.
Impacts of exercise on mental health
Mental health is an issue that society often avoids confrontation with, especially in children who can be considered ‘too young’ to have mental health troubles. Being a student is a stressful period of life for a lot of children, especially those prone to nervousness and anxiety. It is important for all students to enjoy a safe and happy school life, of which physical activity is an important part. Below we have outlined how exercise can offer a great defence against common mental health problems in school children.
There is an enormous amount of stress for school children including peer pressure, work overload and high stakes testing. Exercise controls emotional and physical sensations of stress, as well as working on a cellular level. Engaging in regular physical activity provides a natural form of therapy to the negative consequences of stress. Not only this, but studies have shown people who exercise are more socially active, boosting their confidence and self-esteem.
Anxiety and panic disorders
Anxiety is a natural reflex of the human mind in relation to a threat, but excessive worrying when the threat may be small or non-existent results in an anxiety disorder. Panic is a more intense form of anxiety; both of these conditions can be found in young people. A majority of studies show that aerobic exercise significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety. When a person exercises the brain circuit is rerouted, muscle tension is reduced and a better outcome of anxiety-provoking situations can be reached.
Endorphins that are produced by the brain whilst exercising contribute to a general good feeling of well-being, this can help offset an individual from feeling depressed. Also, physical activity boosts dopamine which improves mood and gives attention span a jump-start.
Schools can be a very difficult environment for children with ADHD due to the need to sit still, face forward and listen. It has been shown that structured exercise for example martial arts, ballet, or gymnastics, is one of the best treatments for ADHD. Challenging both the brain and body is better than simple aerobic exercise because of the technicality and intense focus and concentration which benefits persons with ADHD.
What does this mean for schools?
When analysing the correlation between exercise, mental health and brain performance in students it is undisputable that providing facilities for year-round physical activity benefits students, teachers and schools alike. If you are considering the construction of a new educational structure or COLA building, you can contact us or get a free online quotation.
Information credits: wgu.edu