According to a recently released consensus statement, exercise can not only help children physically, it can also help them academically.

The statement, signed by 24 international experts and published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, contains 21 separate statements regarding physical activity in schools and during leisure time.

The statements are with regard to the four themes of fitness and health—intellectual performance; engagement, motivation, and well-being; and social inclusion—and span structured and unstructured forms of physical activity for 6- to 18-year-olds in school and during leisure time, according to a media release from University of Exeter.

Among these statements, per the release, are: Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children’s and young people’s brain development and function as well as their intellect; A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess; and A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance.

Additional statements include: Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance; and Time taken away from lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades.

In another statement, incorporating physical activity into every aspect of school life and providing protected public spaces, such as bike lanes, parks and playgrounds “are both effective strategies for providing equitable access to, and enhancing physical activity for, children and youth,” according to the release.

“This 21 point consensus statement reflects the importance of enhanced physical activity, not just in schools but sports and recreational clubs, with the family, and even for those children with long term illness. At all levels of society we must ensure that enhanced physical activity is put into practice,” says Professor Craig Williams, director of the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences at Exeter, a contributor to the consensus statement, in the release.

[Source(s): University of Exeter, Science Daily]