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The Link Between Physical Activity and Learning

Learning refers to acquiring knowledge, a skill usually achieved through observation, imitation, and practice. It is a highly individualistic process; various learning methods work for different individuals. 

Lynda Kelly explains learning as “a very individual, complex, and, to some degree, an indescribable process: something we just do, without ever thinking too much about it.”

Learning is usually seen as an academic endeavor; however, an individual also learns, adopts the behaviors, mannerisms they display. Such learning takes place in our environment, such as at home, school, and society.

What is Physical Activity?

Physical activity is simply the bodily movement of an individual’s muscles that requires energy. Any movement of the body can be considered physical activity.

Exercise isn’t the same as physical activity, which is a broader term for all body movements. It is essentially a subcategory of physical activity, which is structured, systematic, and goal-oriented.

Benefits of Physical Activities

It is recommended that an individual carry out a moderate amount of physical activity daily to stay fit. 

Physical activity has the following benefits:-

  • Improves muscular fitness 
  • Improves cardiorespiratory fitness 
  • Increases bone and functional health 
  • Reduces risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer
  • Reduces levels of depression 

Link between Physical Activity and Learning

Physical activity is vital and has numerous benefits for the human body. Schools include physical activity through exercise and/or sports in their curriculum to ensure optimal, holistic development of a child. Not just schools but also organizations, community centres organize sports competitions to ensure participation as well as make it fun.

1. Hormones

Physical activity and working out helps an individual’s body to release different kinds of hormones which are responsible for the euphoria or the pleasant feeling they experience during exercising or after it.

The neurotransmitters responsible for this are dopamine, which is the pleasure chemical, and serotonin, a chemical responsible for happiness, restful sleep, and a healthy appetite.

2. Improvement in Learning

Having a healthy mind definitely aids an individual’s learning, memory, and retention. A review article (Sibley and Etnier, 2003) found that most areas of cognition showed improvement after some physical activity. These areas include perceptual skills, intelligence quotient, achievement, verbal tests, math tests, memory, developmental level/academic readiness. It further improves creativity and concentration.

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