Elementary School

The Benefits of Physical Activity for Students

There are so many positive benefits to physical activity for young students. This physical activity can be during P.E. or as part of a club in the evenings or on weekends. The benefits of being active are valuable for students’ healthy development, their academic performance in school, and building social skills as they participate in teams.

Improvement in Academic Performance

There is growing evidence that physical activity can improve the academic performance of a student. (Castelli et al. 119-148) With regular engagement in physical activity students are able to concentrate better on classroom tasks, recall facts more easily from memory, and display well-composed behaviors. Physical activity has shown to build brain cells, improve brain activity, and ultimately improve the academic performance of a student.

 Improves Student Focus

When students engage in physical activity they burn excess energy. This energy is often what leaves them fidgeting and unable to pay attention during lessons. Helping students to burn energy provides them with the ability to increase their attention and memory during more structured activities. 

“Twenty minutes of daily exercise improves brain function helping students to stay focused and alert,” commented a teacher.

 Improvement in Health and Nutrition

Physical activity has a positive effect on a child’s overall health. One benefit of physical activity in young children is that it can aid the strengthening of bones as a child grows and improves muscular strength. Improving core muscular and upper body strength supports students when attending to lessons, completing handwriting tasks, and engaging in fine motor activities.

“Being in the running club makes me feel stronger and gives me more energy," reported a third-grader.

Building healthy habits during childhood can have long-lasting effects. Students who play sports in elementary school are more likely to become active teens, and in turn, active adults. Healthy food, nutrition, and water are all important for building healthy bodies.

 Improvement in Social Interaction

Physical activities can help students develop positive social interactions with their peers. Students learn to cooperate through group activities, where they share responsibility, build confidence, and take on leadership roles in team games. Also, physical team activities can help to strengthen peer relationships as it encourages students to learn how to solve small problems efficiently. These team activities teach important values such as patience, respect, and to have empathy for each other.  

“In P.E. we learn so many different skills and we also learn to work together as a team in the games we play,” remarked another student.

Physical activity helps students in so many ways. It helps students feel better, improves their coordination and teamwork skills, as well as helps them to attend to academic tasks with increased attention. Whether at school or at home, there is a strong rationale for encouraging children to engage in physical activities.


Castelli, D. M., Centeio, E. E., Hwang, J., Barcelona, J. M., Glowacki, E. M., Calvert, H. G., and Nicksic, H. M. (2014), VII. The History of Physical Activity and Academic Performance Research: Informing The Future. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 79: 119-148. doi: 10.1111/mono.12133.