Physical Activity is a Tool for Academic and Scholastic Achievement

Posted in: Blogs, Positive Mental Health

Research suggests a positive relationship between physical activity and school success in children and youth according to the new ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

Read the report here:

The experts agree, and have made this statement for all Canadian kids:

For better brain health, all children and youth should be physically active on a regular basis. In addition to physical health benefits, physical activity also improves cognition, brain function and mental health.


Many of the brain processes that make for better, more efficient learners—such as focus, memory, and recall—are enhanced after single or repeated bouts of physical activity. Overall, active children and youth make for better- achieving students.

Adding more physical activity to kids’ routines could be the missing part of the equation to support their success in the classroom, on the field, and with their friends.

The science is in, and the report card details how physical activity can help the brain in cognition, brain function and structure & mental health.  Read the report for details on the science behind each of these proven connections between physical activity and brain health.

  • Getting moving is more effective than cramming for a test
  • Busy bodies results in bigger brains
  • The more active the body the more innovative the ideas
  • Being active helps students to focus better
  • Breaking a sweat releases feel good hormones, so kids who move feel great
  • More movement results in less anxiety
  • More physical activity equals less stress
  • Getting active results in increased self esteem

In light of this evidence, and in response to the expert statement on physical activity and brain health in children and youth, educators can:

  • Provide daily opportunities for physical activity and active play during school and childcare hours.
  • Include active learning strategies in daily school curriculum and childcare programming.
  • Interrupt long periods of sitting with active breaks.
  • Educate children, youth and families that regular physical activity is good for the brain as well as the body.
  • Avoid using the removal of opportunities for physical activity and outdoor play as punishment.
  • Be informed about adaptations/modifications to physical education curriculum (e.g., FUNdamentals through Special Olympics, Canadian Paralympics Committee FUNdamental resource, ParaSport education and awareness opportunities) to increase inclusivity and participation.
  • Personalize physical activity programs for children and youth with brain-based disabilities using a strength-based approach.

Need some free resources to get you started, borrow one of our Moving and Choosing resource kits.  These are free to borrow for any school in Southeastern Alberta!

The 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth is the most comprehensive assessment of child and youth physical activity in Canada. The Report Card synthesizes data from multiple sources, including the best available peer-reviewed research, to assign evidence-informed grades across 14 indicators.

The 2018 Expert Statement on Physical Activity and Brain Health in Children and Youth is based on the findings of a team of experts in paediatric neuroscience and exercise science. This Statement was written after multiple reviews, discussions and consultations with stakeholders. The findings are applicable to all Canadian kids, regardless of gender, cultural background or socio-economic status, including those with disabilities.


Desirea Agar is a health promotion coordinator at Medicine Hat Community Health Services and can be reached at

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