Third in a series on physical education …

By Ken Reed

Well-rounded, cardiovascular-based physical education programs help students establish healthy lifestyle habits. As a result, children reap numerous physical fitness and medical benefits – in both the short and long-term.

However, the benefits of physical education and physical activity don’t stop there. Research has consistently shown there’s a distinct relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement.

In particular, studies have determined that physical activity facilitates cognitive development. Today, there is a growing mound of scientific evidence supporting the old adage of a “sound mind in a sound body.”

Dr. John J. Ratey, a Harvard brain-research specialist, is a strong believer in physical activity’s positive impact on the brain. In fact, he believes exercise is fertilizer for the brain, calling it “Miracle-Gro.” A systematic review and meta-analysis supports that point of view, concluding, “Cardiorespiratory fitness is positively associated with academic achievement.”

Moreover, a California Department of Education study found a direct correlation between higher levels of physical fitness and higher academic test scores. According to Delaine Eastin, an educator who served as California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, “We now have the proof we’ve been looking for: students achieve best when they are physically fit.”

Physically-fit kids also have fewer behavioral problems in school. According to the Cooper Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting lifelong health and wellness through research and education, “Improving youth health and fitness through evidence-based programs and initiatives is a key focus at The Cooper Institute. Why? The data are clear—physically fit students perform better academically, have fewer behavioral problems and attend school more frequently.”

Thomas Jefferson said, “Exercise and recreation are as necessary as reading.” He was right.

You can’t educate an unhealthy child and a healthy child needs to be educated on how to stay healthy.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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