Gym helps kids do better in school

I was a “chubby” kid.  My mom would note, though, that I would lose weight during football season.  I wasn’t even aware – I played because it was fun.  I was big, and could have continued to play football, at least at the high school level.  But I chose not to do so.  I regret that now – I think the lessons learned in teamwork and perseverance are as important as math or English. (Big shout out to “Moose” Martin at Stanford – starting offensive left tackle on the football team and Classics major – my friends’ son, NOT pictured above).

While many schools are cutting back on PE, recent studies show that physical exercise helps kids do BETTER on testing, and reduces behavioral problems:

Hillman also tested that notion in a study published this year in Neuroscience and found that kids had more accurate responses on standardized tests when they were tested after moderate exercise, as opposed to being tested after 20 minutes of sitting still. His results lend support to the idea that just a single aerobic workout before class helps boost kids’ learning skills and attention spans.
The bigger the dose of exercise, the more it can pay off in academic achievement. In a study published the same year in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, researchers found that children ages 7-11 who exercised for 40 minutes daily after school had greater academic improvement than same-aged kids who worked out for just 20 minutes.

In Naperville, IL, they found:

… He then used the same approach for math-troubled students, scheduling some in PE before an introductory algebra class. The results were even more dramatic; exercising students increased their math test scores by 20.4 percent, while the rest gained 3.9 percent. “It doesn’t matter if they work out in the morning or afternoon, just that they’re in the class right after PE,” says Zientarski. “It calms them down, it makes them more willing to learn, and they feel good aboutthemselves.”

So, parents, keep those kids active.  I know that for me, exercise before giving a big lecture is a great stress reducer, and leaves me feeling sharper.



Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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