NASHVILLE - Parents looking for ways to improve their child’s academic performance might find running paths, gyms and swim lanes as valuable as libraries. That’s the message Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, delivered this week to more than 300 professionals attending the annual Tennessee Public Health Association conference in Franklin.
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“Numerous studies by reputable organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown an important association between physical activity and academic performance,” Dreyzehner said. “While many parents realize regular exercise and physical activity can help build healthy bodies, decrease risk for some chronic diseases, reduce stress and improve self-esteem, sometimes we forget improved physical health can impact what happens in the classroom and how children learn.”
“Physical activity is associated with improved concentration and attention,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Michael Warren, MD, MPH. “Parents and teachers should also know that physical activity can positively impact classroom behavior and academic performance. Physical activity is not only good for the heart and muscles, but also for the brain.”
Many clinicians recommend a minimum of one hour of physical activity each day for school-age children. The activity does not have to be strenuous or demanding physically; anything that requires movement can contribute to improved health and impact what happens in a classroom or other learning environment.
“We all recognize that academic success positions children for greater achievements throughout their lives,” Dreyzehner said. “When parents and caregivers engage in physical activities with our children, be that running, walking, swimming or other types of active play we choose, we are strengthening important family bonds, modeling strategies for success, getting healthier and burning a few calories ourselves.”
To review CDC information on studies regarding physical activity and academic performance, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/pa-pe_paper.pdf.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.