We talk a lot about summer reading and keeping up children’s learning experiences during the summer months. But what about getting them moving and sweating? Sure, it’s easy to sweat in Arizona during the summer without doing a thing; but what about breaking a real sweat from physical activity?
We all know that exercise is good for the body. But it is also good for the mind! Keeping children active when they are younger not only sets them up for a healthier adult life, but it helps them to think critically, adapt to new situations, be socially competent, and feel better about themselves.
The critical thinking and adaptation skills they learn while playing sports and during physical activity help children to do better in school over the long-term. Plus, active, healthy adults are less likely to get dementia or Alzheimer’s as they age. With those stakes, why wouldn’t you want your child to go outside and play?
Here are just four of the benefits your child will receive if he or she remains physically active and fit during the summer.
- Math skills
Math isn’t just about adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing. Keeping score, judging or comparing distances, and achieving goals require varying degrees of numbers reasoning and problem solving.
Both are skills that contribute to better math comprehension. They also help students find new ways to approach different problems, which comes in handy as children get older and math classes become increasingly difficult.
- Critical thinking skills.
Physical activity requires critical thinking. From where to put your feet to how to hold a bat or racket, or even how many seconds to go before taking a breath, the unconscious decision-making that goes into most sports and physical play teaches children how to proceed in the best, most efficient manner.
This can translate to other areas of life, such as critical approaches to material in a literature class or completing difficult homework tasks alone. Stronger analysis skills benefit children across all subjects, helping them to perform better in their favorite and least favorite classes.
- Improved memory.
Old age isn’t the only time we should worry about making sure we’ve had enough physical activity. Playing sports requires muscle memory, but it also strengthens brain memory.
Each sport has its own rules, regulations, and exceptions. Learning and knowing those requires thought and memorization—both of which are key to passing standardized tests and doing well on tasks that necessitate rote memorization or quick recall.
- Better mental or emotional health.
Children who feel good about themselves are less likely to suffer mental or emotional disorders that can be linked to their appearances. Since physical activity strengthens kids’ bodies and provides an endorphin high, they will be less likely to obsess over their weight or become targets of looks-based bullying.
Of course, there are many factors that contribute to complex issues like self-esteem and social acceptance—but children who play sports or engage in regular physical activity are more likely to feel comfortable in their skin. This translates into greater overall confidence and a better ability to focus on academics.
All of these qualities will enable your child to be more successful in school. Whether you enroll him or her in organized sports, are active together as a family, or encourage your child to exercise or engage in activities such as hiking, bicycling, and running, make physical activity as important a priority as schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and year-round learning.