Education Blog

Charlie Hagan discusses the benefits of exercise for your child’s brain.

by Charlie Hagan, BSc, LLB, REPS L3 Fitness Coach, PN


Can exercise help my child’s academic work?

Over the last decade a line of studies have shown a direct link between children’s physical activity levels and academic achievement. The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a consensus from the world’s top 24 researchers in childhood exercise concluding that physical activity and cardiovascular fitness improves brain structure, function and cognition in children and promotes scholastic performance.


Further studies have found that children who exercise more are better at multitasking, reading comprehension and maths tests than sedentary children. Important studies in Finland and the USA indicate that participation in physical activity (particularly high intensity) during childhood leads to higher educational levels and socio-economic performance in adulthood.

…children who exercise more are better at multitasking, reading comprehension and maths tests than sedentary children.

Why does exercise help?

Exercise assists brain development and academic performance in a number of ways. The right types of physical activity can increase brain growth biochemicals, stimulate nerve growth, enhance the brain’s resistance to injury and increase blood flow and oxy

gen to the cortex. Exercise also assists hormone balance and sleep which in turn helps an array of brain functions.

What exercise does my child need?

Children and teenagers aged 5-18 should be doing a minimum of 1 hour (and up to several hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day (advice of the UK Chief Medical Officer). This should include an even mix of:chidlren-playing-sport

  • Aerobic activities (e.g. running, swimming, outdoor activities)
  • Muscle strengthening activities (e.g. gymnastics, ballet, calisthenics, pilates, martial arts, tree/rock climbing)
  • Bone strengthening activities (e.g. field sports, jumping, athletics, tennis, jumping rope)

What action can I take?

The first priority for parents looking to optimise their child’s academic chances should be to ensure the child receives the best quality education and schooling of a type suited to him or her. Parents then looking to give their child an extra edge can examine at how leisure time is spent.


A starting point is to make sure your child is getting at least 1 hour’s physical activity per day. Is he or she spending hours in front of the TV/social media/computer games? Replace one of those hours with a physical activity that they will enjoy! Ballet and dance are popular with girls and excellent for body strength & motor skills. Similarly martial arts for boys. Field sports such as hockey, soccer, tennis etc. are great for cardiovascular fitness while children’s games such as Tag or British Bulldog are fantastic.

About the authorCharlie_Hagan

Charlie Hagan is a Managing Partner of Hagan & Pappin. Based London, Hagan & Pappin provides discreet private fitness training, nutrition and wellness services to families across the globe. This includes optimising children’s fitness and nutrition for education.
For a free private consultation call +44 (0)20 7243 3398 or email
For further information visit

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