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Study: Physically Active Girls Do Better in Science — Of Course They Do!

iStock_000010453648XSmall“What do you want to be when you grow up,” I asked my daughter.

“An imagineer or a scientist. Or both. I want to be both,” she replied. “Or a soccer player.”

The “what do you want to be when you grow up,” question is one I often ask her, just to see what is on her mind, and sometimes it inspires some pretty interesting carpool conversations. But her reply in the last six months has been the same: imagineer, scientist and/or soccer player.

And while these three may seem completely unrelated, it turns out that there are some strong bonds between them.

First, Disney imagineers must have a firm grasp on physics in order to properly engineer rides, so science would come in quite handy. So how does soccer relate to science, especially for someone like my daughter? As it turns out, according to a recent study— as reported by NPR News — “physically active girls were much better at science than their peers. That held true for five years, when the children took other standardized tests at age 13 and 16.”

The data of the study was compiled in Great Britain where researchers tracked the physical activity and academic progress of 5000 children starting at the age 11. It is recommended that children get about sixty minutes of “moderate to vigorous exercise” per day, but sadly, most children did not meet that quota. “Boys clocked 29 minutes a day on average,” the study found. “While girls managed just 18 minutes.” But in their study they did find that if a girl, starting at age 11, got more physical exercise, then they did better not just in English and math but in science.

Don’t grab your daughter and make her do a couple dozen laps just yet. “This study doesn’t prove that the increased exercise was what improved the children’s test scores,” NPR reports. “But parents aren’t off base in thinking that it could help,” they added.

There has been more research to support this theory and that these various studies “continue to show the importance of exposing kids to physical activity,” said Sandy Slater, who has studied recess and physical education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“There’s obviously the long-term links between physical activity and health, but this is another reason to try to continue to keep some dedicated amount of time for physical education or recess or some other types of physical activity in the school day,” she told Reuters Health.

At my daughter’s school, there is one teacher who has the children do a lap around the schoolyard before they sit down to do math. She is one who truly believes in this theory and applies it in her classroom. And it really does make sense. As an adult, if I go on a brisk walk or a jog, my brain seems to function far better.

What is truly sad, is while these studies are happening, recess and physical education programs are being cut in schools nationwide. So while these studies may seem to be just confirming what we all know that exercise is good for our kid’s brains maybe these studies are needed just to PROVE it and hopefully schools will realize the importance of physical exercise for our children. Not just for their bodies, their brains, but for all those future female soccer loving scientists.

Photo Source: istockphotos

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