There are a few obvious reasons to encourage children to participate in extracurricular activities and to head outside to play with their friends. As every parent knows, kids have a lot of energy to burn, and scheduling in play time helps them burn it off. Physical activity is also a great way to make new friends, learn to work together as part of a team and develop healthy habits. However, recent studies show that physical activity can positively impact children’s behavior and academic performance, too.
Kids With ADHD Are Less Likely to Act Out
In a recent seven-week study, elementary and teenage students with autism and ADHD had their school day broken up with “cybercyles.” They rode a stationary bike for short periods of time throughout the day. The result was a 50 percent decrease in outbursts and disruptive behaviors. While not a program most schools will implement, the research shows the importance of maintaining opportunities to play and remain active during the school day. It also suggests that punishing children for their disruptive behavior by keeping them inside during recess does more damage than good.
Being Physically Fit Improves Test Scores
Unfortunately, physical education and recess are being reduced in schools across the nation, even right here in Woodbridge. While the intention is to provide children with more academic learning opportunities, the decreased play is doing the exact opposite. Recent research shows that students who meet the CMS Fitness Test Assessment perform up to twice as well in math and reading. The CMS Fitness Test measures cardiovascular endurance, abdominal strength, flexibility and upper body strength. If your child doesn’t have access to daily P.E. class, they can maintain fitness by signing up for afterschool sports and other kid-friendly physical activities.
Children Are More Positive When They Have Active Play Opportunities
Another reason for parents to help facilitate active play, which many parents can relate to, is that physical activities boost our mood. As few as 10 minutes of physical activity releases mood-boosting endorphins. Regular active play also stimulates the brain to create new pathways, new neurons and boosts brain-healthy growth factors. This is essential in helping young children whose brains are still developing.
Encouraging Physical Activity
While parents can’t do much about the amount of play made available to children during the school day, they can encourage physical activity in the evenings, on the weekends and during breaks from school. A few ideas include:
- Sign your young kids up for any sport they show interest in. The more sports they try, the sooner they will find one or two that they enjoy.
- Prioritize off-season training through camps, clinics and year-round cross training.
- Schedule play dates or active outings with their friends year-round.
- Engage in active family fun — going to the park to fly a kite, playing Frisbee or catch, hiking, taking bike rides, etc.
- Explore creative physical activities or physical fun not offered in school. This might include dance, martial arts, horseback riding, archery, bowling, golf and more!
Competitive Edge provides kids with a safe and fun place to play and develop their physical abilities. All classes, camps and clinics are divided by age to ensure students are at similar levels. Remember, your student doesn’t have to be a star athlete to participate in physical activity!
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge, VA and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.