By Declan Byrne
New research shows that kids who are physically active are more likely to achieve stronger academic results than those who are not.
Brain Boost, which was launched this week by the Department of Sport and Recreation, is a collection of research produced by the Centre for Sport and Recreation Research.
Ron Alexander, Director General of the Department of Sport and Recreation, says Brain Boost is a sound reminder of the importance of being active.
“This research confirms that being active in the playground or on the playing field helps children perform better in the classroom by improving their memory, behavior, concentration and reasoning ability,” he said.
“Active kids not only do better at school but enjoy improved mental health. Take it one step further: kids who are happier and healthier engage and contribute more positively in their local community.”
In a more worrying trend, Brain Boost also found physical activity, both at school and at home, is decreasing.
“In some schools children are getting less than 10 minutes of activity each day. This, combined with screen time devices, gaming consoles and general lifestyle factors, means many children are less active,” Mr Alexander said.
However increasing activity doesn’t just mean more sports, with an emphasis on play returning to childhood.
Griffin Longley is the CEO of Nature Play WA, a not-for-profit organisation and Department of Sport and Recreation initiative that focusses on unstructured playtime.
“We’re set up to try and get kids back outside and mucking around, that’s in the context of a growing move towards play being replaced by entertainment.
“On average, kids are spending less of the day outside than our maximum security prisoners,” he said.
Mr Longley says that current ‘structured play’ methods are causing children to lose some important life skills.
“… the nature of childhood is changing, for all the good things that come with that we are losing a key human inheritance.
“That inheritance is the ability to think, to create, to invent and to develop an awareness of our bodies and the world around us. That’s being lost, and it’s really sad.”