The Correlation Between Running And The Classroom

The Correlation Of Aerobic Exercise And Academic Achievement

Aerobic exercise is proven to help kids academically in school. The evidence is overwhelming in support of running for more than just health and fitness. Running and some other forms of aerobic exercise help the brain function with more clarity.

There is a strong positive correlation between aerobic exercise (running) and learning. Aerobic exercise increases circulation in the body and improves brain functions positively. The unique God-given gift of running has profound positive effects on learning ability.

Test scores have improved in various studies for students who add aerobic exercise to their day. As stated in one of the articles below, "higher test results support the notion that students should be given adequate time to exercise during the regular school day."

In general, aerobic exercise has shown positive results in the classroom.                                    

Running as it relates to academic success is not a theory to me. I've seen the positive effects of running in the classroom year in and year out. Aerobic exercise and solid academic achievement go hand in hand.

The cross-country teams I’ve coached have won academic awards each year from the local state high school athletic association. One year, the team won the state academic championship for Cross-Country teams with the highest team GPA.                                                                                     

Another year, one of the teams I  helped coach was honored by the state legistaure for outstanding academic and athletic long-term performance. They won nine consecutive state cross-country championships while winning a state academic award of some kind each year.                                                                                                                         

The last four consecutive valedictorians at the school I coach at were captains of the cross-country teams and also a member of the school track and field teams.

I've  seen strong academic accomplishments year in and year out with the running teams I’ve coached.  Aerobic exercise and strong academics go hand in hand.

Running And Aerobic Exercise Helps Brain Development And Much More

Running and brain development go together as well. Cognitive function improves with sustained aerobic exercise. Scientific journals are full of studies that validate the value of sustained aerobic exercise in learning.

Running also helps mitigate the impacts of ADD, ADHD, and even depression at times. Again, this is not a theory to me at all. I've seen the results first-hand for years now with the student-athletes I've coached. The impact of exercise at times is life-changing in positive life-giving ways for many student-athletes. Helping kids with these types of struggles is one of the main reasons why I coach.                                                 

Think Michael Phelps, the most decorated gold medal Olympic athlete of all time. Read his story sometime about how aerobic exercise helped him overcome his challenges in the areas listed above. He had one wise mother who found a way to help her son overcome sigificant life challenges.

During COVID, running was an outlet like no other, especially for the kids I coached. Emotional and spiritual health is much more important to me than all the championships and academic accomplishments combined.  All those accomplishments don't hold a candle to seeing kids smile and find happiness in difficult life circumstances, COVID, or otherwise.

Being outside with teammates in the fresh air is a Godsend in so many wonderful ways and on so many different levels.

Other reasons to consider running and aerobic exercise including emotional health:

·       Sleep better at night

·       Relieve stress and anxiety

·       Connect with friends, we need others

·       Boost energy and productivity

·       Better able to cope with daily frustrations

·       Brain chemistry changes in positive good ways, and this lasts for hours.                                                                                              

While there are always exceptions to just about any rule or situation, the benefits of aerobic exercise are verifiable, well-known in most environments, and promoted by high school, college, and health oversight organizations around the world for the majority of students.

Impacts Of Withholding Exercise As Punishment Or Discipline

In some environments,  however, where the benefits of aerobic exercise are lesser known, exercise is sometimes withheld as a punishment or a disciplinary tactic when grades are in question. This approach is a travesty because by withholding exercise, grade and academic issues are compounded and emotional health is impacted negatively.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with people around me who understand the benefits of exercise as outlined above.  Some others I've talked to over the years are not so fortunate.

The benefits of aerobic exercise listed above all obviously cease when it is used as a discipline tool for an individual. Not good.                                   

I am not saying not to discipline a person when it is needed. I am saying try to find another creative way to discipline the person in question. I have worked with others for years to help identify more appropriate and impactful correction strategies. 

Withholding exercise as a punishment and as a disciplinary tool, is outdated thinking and is detrimental to the physical and emotional well-being of young people in many situations. Obviously, exceptions, including those who cannot exercise due to medical conditions are part of the decision-making process when considering the value of aerobic excercise.

Why take away a proven way to help emotional and academic health if you don't have to?

The sample resources below outline the correlation and benefits of aerobic exercise, brain development, and academics. There are many additional resources as well that outline the benefits of aerobic exercise on brain development and academic achievement.                                  

Conduct your own research on the beneftis of running and other forms of aerobic exercise with sources you trust as well. It is worth the time and energy to understand that benefits of this very important topic.


Coach Weber

Philippians 4:13