The Challenge: Overwhelming evidence links physical activity to improvements in student performance, including grades and standardized test scores. Yet, schools often fail to promote policies that ensure children and adolescents receive recommended levels of daily physical activity.
Make an impact: By making the connection between physical activity policies and positive academic outcomes, policymakers can enact win-win solutions that help enhance students’ academic performance while improving their overall health.
What the findings are about: This brief discusses policy recommendations that promote academic achievement by incorporating physical activity in school-aged children.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
Children who perform better on physical capacity tests are more likely to receive higher reading and math scores, even when the added time for physical activity takes away from time in the classroom.
Intensive physical activity programs in schools can improve cognitive skills and attitudes, including concentration, attention and classroom behavior.
Improve the quality and amount of physical education and physical activity in schools.
Provide opportunities for students to engage in physical activity outside of classroom time.
Leadership for Healthy Communities. Making the Connection: Linking Academic Achievement to Policies to Promote Physical Activity Brief. Princeton, NJ: Leadership for Healthy Communities, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 2011. Available from: www.leadershipforhealthycommunities.org.