Middle school students who perform more vigorous physical activity than their more sedentary peers tend to do better in school according to a new study done by researchers from Michigan State University. The research is published in the August issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
For one academic year two hundred Sixth graders were tracked for six months doing PE classes, which did not raise their academic scores, and six months doing more vigorous exercise like swimming, football and soccer. During the time doing these exercises their scores improved by 10%. The students who performed better academically in this study were the most active, meaning those who participated in a sport or other vigorous activity at least three times a week.
The difference between vigorous activity and moderate activity is heart rate. Moderate activities, such as walking or raking leaves, don’t get the heart rate up or make the person breathe harder. Vigorous activities, such as running or swimming for exercise, increase heart rate, causing the exerciser to breathe harder and increasing oxygen to the brain.
The take away message for all of us is: exercise hard enough to cause deep breathing to get oxygen flowing better to the brain. This helps academically and in other ways to keep us healthy!