Primary school children can focus better through sports – SWR المعرفة Knowledge

Elementary school children who are physically fit are more likely to move on to high school. This was the result of a study conducted by the Technical University of Munich.

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If you exercise, you really can’t go wrong. Sport makes you happy, sport keeps you healthy, and sport makes you fit for school. It starts with the little ones: A study by the Technical University of Munich shows that sports improve the concentration of primary school children. More than 6,500 students participated.

Are school performance and physical fitness related to primary school students?

The Munich study examined children’s ability to focus. This is just one component of what makes up a child’s actual academic performance, explains sports and health scientist Dr. Torsten Schulz, who led the study. However, the study provides evidence that fitness is closely related to focus.

What does high ability to focus mean?

Those who can focus better are less disturbed by small distractions. As a general rule, people with a high ability to focus can stay longer on one thing or do a short-term activity with greater focus. Both were explicitly examined in the test procedure for the study.

Children with poor concentration are easy to get distracted. This can also affect their academic performance.

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Sports can define a school’s career

Primary school students’ ability to focus was observed over a five-year period. This enabled researchers to understand children’s school occupations.

The result: Kids who were fitter were more likely to be in high school or middle school. Pupils with poor physical fitness went to high school, among other things.

Girl driving a wheel in a gym.  (Photo: Imago Images, Imago / Itar-Tass)

According to the Munich study, children who are in better shape are more likely to go to grammar school or middle school.

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However, Schulze asserts that caution is required when interpreting causation. Because there are also other social and economic factors that can play a role. For example, whether parents can motivate the child to exercise and, if necessary, support other academic achievements as well.

Schools should promote a culture of physical activity

The study was able to show the relationship between a child’s fitness and high school choice. Even if the exact reasons for this association leave room for speculation, Schulze says, the study findings can certainly be used as an opportunity to encourage children and young adults to get more exercise and sports.

It advocates not only the promotion of sports, but also the culture of movement in everyday life and at school – for example through active breaks between school hours. In addition, children should have an average of three hours of sports in primary school.

Are children at risk from “forced fracture” during the Corona pandemic?

Due to the closure, school children are no longer able to go to school for a long time, and therefore have missed out on physical education classes. In addition, sports clubs have had to temporarily stop their operations on site and sometimes children cannot even meet in private in groups to play football. All of this suggests that children may have been less active during the pandemic. Does this have consequences for their ability to focus?

Pupils run laps in front of the school yard.  A teacher with a mask measures time.  (Photo: IMAGO Images, IMAGO / Hans Lucas)

During the Corona pandemic, daily life is restricted. Many teachers have tried to motivate children to exercise despite strict hygiene measures.

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IMAGO / Hans Lucas

Not necessarily, says Schulz, because there were also many opportunities to reorient yourself. Many teachers have made an effort to continue physical education within the confines of Corona. The clubs offered online activities. Now that the Corona measures have been relaxed, these compensation options can complement daily sports in order to enhance the ability of children and youth to focus through sports in a sustainable manner.

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