Saturday, 10 May 2014

CHILDREN who play sport and exercise can improve their academic performance, experts have claimed.

While boosting health and fitness are often promoted as the key benefits to increased physical activity, growing ­attention is now being given to its potential to impact across all areas of life.

Gregor Henderson, who advises the UK government on public health and well being issues, said there was now good scientific evidence that taking part in sport boosted educational achievement, ­increased confidence and ­improved mental health.

But he said these benefits were not always recognised, which made young people less likely to take part if they believed only winning and being good at sport were important.

One example of the wider benefits of sport is in the field of educational achievement, with growing scientific evidence that activity boosts learning ability. A study by researchers at the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee last year found links between exercise and exam success in English, maths and science.

They claimed that every 15 minutes of daily exercise improved performance by an average of about a quarter of a grade, meaning it was possible that children who carried out 60 minutes of exercise every day could improve their academic performance by a full grade – for example, from a C to a B, or a B to an A.

Another project in Scottish schools – Better Movers and Thinkers (BMT) – is also ­taking different approaches to physical exercise using rhythm, balance and movement to improve performance in the classroom.

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