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Sports and Physical Activity are Important for Brain Development and Academic Performance

When I was growing up, it was common knowledge that Asian parents don’t really care about sports. I think we know better now that there are many reasons to get kids involved in sports and physical activities. There is so much value in sports for our children’s development that we really should take it more seriously.

Some of the benefits of sports:

  • Emotional wellbeing – develops confidence, self-esteem, self-concept; provides a sense of belonging, opportunity to achieve; improves the quality of sleep; allows self-expression.
  • Health – encourages healthy growth and development; develops coordination and balance; reduces the risk of obesity and other related diseases.
  • Mental health – improves concentration, and stress and anxiety management.
  • Social skills – encourages cooperation and teamwork; develops friendship and integration.
  • Learning and productivity – develop motivation and improves learning outcomes.
  • A positive school environment – reduces aggression and disciplinary issues.
  • Reduction in anti-social behaviour – reduces the likelihood of smoking, illicit drug use, and criminal activity.

Probably more interesting is the effect of sports on brain development. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that right brain education is a pet subject of mine so I found it particularly interesting to read that “athletes… emitted stronger alpha waves“. Just in case you are unfamiliar, the first part of right brain education involves getting the brain consciousness into alpha – which is, to put it simply, a state of enhanced creativity and ability.

Some time back, I was exploring how to get the brain to think faster, particularly when there are a lot of environmental disturbances. It turns out that being trained in sports helps athletes to achieve better results when placed in distracting situations. The increased efficiency of their brains allowed them to filter out those distractions and focus on the task at hand – in other words, increased concentration.


What does sports do for your child’s academic performance?

An examination of studies found:

  • positive link between physical activity and academic performance – children achieved higher grades
  • positive correlation between sports performance and academic ability (so you should be concerned about your child’s “F” in PE)

In particular:

  • physical activity improves concentration, attention, and cognitive control
  • a 10 minute energiser session beginning each day of the school week improved on-task behaviour
  • acute bouts of physical activity exert short term benefits on cognitive functioning

For more details on the studies and results, you should read the article.

“Sport has the power to unite people in a way little else can. Sport can create hope. Breaks down racial barriers… laughs in the face of discrimination and speaks to people in a language they can understand.” – Nelson Mandela


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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