Try this fun game and learn about the academic benefits of physical activity:
In today's world, it's more important than ever for kids to be physically active. Not only does physical activity help kids stay healthy, but it can also improve their academic achievement.
There is a growing body of research that shows that fitness and physical activity can have a positive impact on a student's cognitive function, memory, and attention span. This can lead to improved academic performance in all areas, including reading, writing, and math.
Back to School Fitness Games: Get Moving, Link Learning, and Have Fun!
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How Fitness and Physical Activity Improves Cognitive Function
When kids are physically active, their brains release chemicals that improve cognitive function. These chemicals include dopamine, norepinephrine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in motivation, reward, and learning. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in attention and alertness. BDNF is a protein that helps to grow and maintain new brain cells.
How Fitness and Physical Activity Improves Memory
Physical activity can also improve memory. This is because physical activity helps to increase blood flow to the brain. When blood flow to the brain increases, it helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells. This can help to improve memory function.
How Fitness and Physical Activity Improves Attention Span
Physical activity can also improve attention span. This is because physical activity helps to increase the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in motivation, reward, and attention.
How to Include Physical Activity for Students Throughout the Day
Our favorite back-to-school game? Alphabet Relay!
Here’s how to play:
Form relay teams with 5-10 students per team. The first team member runs (or hops, skips, or gallops) to the stopping point and shouts out the letter A, then runs back to their team and goes to the end of the line. The next team member runs to the stopping point and shouts out the letter B. Continue through team members from A to Z. The first team to Z wins!
Small Space Adaptation: Instead of running, each team member does 3 jumping jacks then calls out their letter or word.
Adjust for different grade levels:
PK-1: Letters, A to Z
2nd-5th: Words that start with A to Z
6th-12th: Categories - fruits and vegetables A to Z, states and capitals A to Z, elements on the periodic table, etc.
Here are other ways to include physical activity for students throughout the day:
Start the day with physical activity. This could include a warm-up activity before class, a physical education class, or a recess period.
Incorporate physical activity into the classroom. This could include having students do jumping jacks, stretches, or other exercises while they are learning.
Provide opportunities for students to be physically active during breaks. This could include having students play outside, go for a walk, or do some other type of physical activity.
End the day with physical activity. This could include a cool-down activity after class, a physical education class, or a recess period.
There is a growing body of research that shows that fitness and physical activity can have a positive impact on a student's academic achievement. If you are looking for ways to improve your child's academic performance, consider incorporating more physical activity into their day.
Did you enjoy these activities? For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises aligned with state and national standards, shop our PowerUp programs!
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PowerUp Fitness is an Advocate Member of the National Afterschool Association and a proud partner of Active Schools.