Physical Activity

The Advantages of Physical Activity for Cognitive Development in the Classroom

More and more teachers in international schools in Tokyo and worldwide acknowledge that physical activity is importance among students for cognitive development. Moving students into classrooms has several benefits for cognitive functioning, especially in academic performance, beyond just keeping the students active. The article’s main aim is to try to expose the benefits of physical activity towards the student’s cognitive development within a classroom environment by depicting how movement-based learning approaches foster learning outcomes and the student’s general welfare.

Advantages of Physical Activity for Cognitive Development

Enhanced Brain Function:

  • Physical activity stimulates blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, enhancing cognitive function.
  • Movement-based activities activate neural pathways, improving attention, memory, and information-processing abilities.

Improved Focus and Attention:

  • Physical activity helps students regulate their attention and focus in the classroom.
  • Brief interludes of activity between or during recesses have been found to invigorate students and enhance their concentration on their academic tasks.

Enhanced Learning and Retention:

  • Physical activity primes the brain for learning by creating an optimal state for information retention.
  • Kinesthetic learning may also help in performing or working out the estimation of multiple-choice questions or recollection of items during testing and may also involve movement in learning activities.

Stress Reduction and Emotional Regulation:

  • Physical activity releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of well-being and reduce stress.
  • Movement-based breaks can allow students to lower anxiety, regulate emotion, and maintain a positive mood that may be easier to deal with if associated with learning.

Improved Problem-Solving Skills:

  • Engaging in physical activity fosters creativity and divergent thinking, essential for problem-solving.
  • It is a challenge, and team-building activities based on movement make students think out of the box to solve academic problems creatively.

Enhanced Social Skills:

  • Physical activity provides opportunities for social interaction and collaboration among students.
  • Team sports, cooperative games, and group fitness activities develop communication, cooperation, and conflict-resolution skills.

Development of Gross Motor Skills:

  • Physical activity develops the body’s gross motor skills, forming the basis for general body health and coordination.
  • Running, jumping, and balancing help children develop strength, agility, and spatial awareness.

Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle Habits:

  • Regular physical activity in the classroom fosters a lifelong commitment to health and fitness.
  • Educators should be the part to include movement in the daily program to inculcate lifestyle habits and re-emphasize messages for physical well-being.

Increased Brain Plasticity:

  • Physical activity promotes neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and reorganize in response to experiences.
  • These learning experiences are connected via synaptic connections, leading to better cognitive flexibility and adaptive learning skills with regular movement-based learning experiences.

Holistic Development:

  • Exercise forms part of the integral development of the students, both physically and in aspects of cognitive and socio-emotional dimensions.
  • Educators support overall well-being and academic success by nurturing the whole child through movement-based learning.


Final Thoughts

Classroom-based movement approaches help improve students’ physical health and benefit cognitive development and academic success. A few benefits of movement-based learning that go far and wide are enhanced ability in problem-solving, improved focus, attention, and even emotional regulation. 

This is by incorporating physical activity into the learning process, allowing students to learn at an optimal level that will see them improve in academics, social, and emotional learning environments in international primary schools in Tokyo and beyond.

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