A consensus statement signed by 24 researchers from eight countries, including the UK, says exercise is vital to children’s physical and mental health and improves academic results.
Expert from universities including in Birmingham, Chester, London and Exeter, agreed a series of 21 separate remarks about the power of physical activity for children.
Published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the statement says “time taken away from academic lessons in favour of physical activity has been shown to not come at the cost of scholastic performance”.
It says “physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are beneficial to brain structure, brain function and cognition” and “physical activity before, during and after school promotes scholastic performance in children and youth”.
Just a single session of moderate exercise has been shown to have an “acute benefit” on brain function, cognition and academic performance in children, while there are also many benefits in terms of mental health, the statement added.
Self-esteem as well as relationships with other children, parents and teachers are enhanced by the benefits of exercise, which also promotes social inclusion.
Furthermore, sports and physical activity programmes that follow a plan or a curriculum help children develop life skills such as being able to moderate one’s own behaviour, as well as teaching values such as respect, the statement said.
One section points to the benefits of exercise for children, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes in adulthood.