“Research out there shows that if you have kids exercising and being active before they sit for math or sit for science, they will perform better than kids who don’t exercise before those subjects,” said Matt Flesock, executive director of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind.
He said incorporating physical education throughout the day improves physical, mental and emotional health.
“It’s the only subject in school that benefits the whole child,” he said. “It improves academic performance. It improves mental health. Students sleep better. It decreases stress, decreases anxiety. It’s kinda this magical subject.”
It also helps prevent obesity, which is crucial, as recent studies have shown young people are less active during the pandemic.
“In a time of a pandemic when there is loneliness and isolation, there is stress, there is anxiety, physical activity is a treatment for these things. It’s been a researched, proven treatment for mild cases of depression,” Flesock added.
For parents with younger children, Flesock suggests making time for fun physical activities, like hopscotch or jump-rope. Older kids should explore something new, like yoga or hiking.
“Getting teenagers to start thinking more about, what are going to be the physical activities that they are going to (do) into adulthood — let’s start introducing them now,” he explained. “Young children, they’re still developing their coordination, so I think having simple activities and simple moments of play broken throughout the day are going to be what really helps keep kids active and keep kids garnering those positive benefits from physical activity.”