Strong Bodies Support Learning: Research Shows That Exercising the Body Improves Academic Performance

As if choosing and implementing an academic curriculum for your children was not enough, research indicates that you should be organizing regular physical activity for them as well.  The results of a study by Charles Hillman, Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Neuroscience at the University of Illinois were published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2007. He studied a group of 259 third and fifth graders who were given standard physical education routines.  Afterwards, he looked at the students’ math and reading scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and compared these to the results of the physical tests.  He found that the better the students did on the physical evaluations the better they scored on the achievement tests.

Since this study, there have been many others that correlate increased physical activity and school success. One of the more interesting studies published this year in Neuroscience demonstrated that students were more accurate on standardized tests when they were tested right after moderate exercise rather than after sitting still for twenty minutes.  If your child struggles with a specific subject, offering an opportunity for physical activity right before the lesson can be very helpful.

Homeschool students may not be involved in organized physical activities found in school, and it is very important to provide your children not only with an excellent learning experience, but with physical education as well. Though many types of exercise are good for overall health, in terms of brain power it has been found that aerobic and cardiovascular activities are best.  Even if you do not have access to community sports teams, playground games such as tag, hopscotch, or jump rope are effective aerobic activities. Other activities that are enjoyable for children and exercise the heart are swimming, skating, and running.

Remember, physical education does not have to be complicated, involve travel, or special equipment to be effective. To get your children moving a brisk family walk or run every day will do the trick.

Related Links for Homeschooling Physical Education

Homeschooling P.E. Information

99 Tips for Family Fitness Fun

The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Guide Book

Daily Exercise Chart

Print Sports Awards

NASPE’s Teacher Toolbox