Physical activities = academic achievements?


Regular sport training and physical activities positively affect human mental and physical state. Interesting question is whether physical activities in school improve pupils’ academic results. Some scholars argue that sport can contribute to high achievements in school, while others believe that there is no connection between sport and education. Independently from various opinions, physical education will always be important part of school program. Furthermore, some schools use intensive sport courses to raise academic results.

In regard to educational process, physical exercises enhance pupils’ concentration, increase discipline and improve academic achievement (Singh et al., 2012). Singh et al. (2012) draw this conclusion from the analysis of various publications about connection between sport activities and academic achievements. Even so sport is considered as a possible tool for raising academic results, sometimes physical education classes are replaced by “more important” subjects needed for examinations and graduation. Some scholars note a negative tendency nowadays among adolescents; they don’t spend enough time on physical activities.

At the same time, there is a group of authors who wrote a response on previous study. They absolutely disagree with the conclusion made by Singh et al. (2012). Hattie  & Clinton (2012) state that there is no connection between physical activities and academic achievements, since sport is a beneficial activity by itself and there is no need to draw links between them.

Considered both perspectives, I wanted to find a real program that successfully uses sport classes for academic improvement. I noticed one interesting article about Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programming (CSPAP) practicing in many schools in the United States of America (Brusseau, 2015). CSPAP is an approach aimed at pupils’ active involvement in sport process. This approach includes five main components: high quality of physical education in school, sport classes before and after school, involvement of school staff and family members in sport activities, support from the society (p. 442). Experience of CSPAP in many schools proved that well planned physical activities in school can improve students’ academic performance.

What are your thoughts about connection between sport and education? Can regular physical activities improve pupils’ academic results?


Photo credit to:

Brusseau, T. &  Hannon, J. (2015). Impacting Children’s Health and Academic Performance through Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programming. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 7(3), 441–450. Retrieved from

Hattie J, & Clinton J. (2012). Physical activity is not related to performance at school. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166(7), 678–679. Retrieved from

Singh A, Uijtdewilligen L, Twisk JR, van Mechelen W, & Chinapaw MM. (2012). Physical activity and performance at school: A systematic review of the literature including a methodological quality assessment. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166(1), 49–55. Retrieved from



5 thoughts on “Physical activities = academic achievements?

  1. Dear, Alina as a person whose physical education classes stopped in elementary school I would like to thank you for raising this important topic!
    Because I truly believe that sports and physical education play an important role in the life of each human, even if there may be no direct correlation between exercising and academic performance.
    Undoubtedly, physical well-being leads to emotional and intellectual well-being as well. А sound mind in a sound body!
    Moreover, I would like to emphasize the importance of sports in education as sports is not just about physical activity and running with the ball across the pitch. It requires quite an effort and intellect to play sports. I mean, have you ever tried to at least understand the rules of a baseball game? I did. And still am.
    Sports require critical thinking skills as much as any other field, as a player is supposed to follow the rules, think of strategies and tactics and what’s more important to have problem-solving skills. Because in sports you can never 100% predict the outcome of the game, so players are flexible (not only physically) and must react and make decisions immediately.
    Last time I checked, the contemporary education system is aimed at developing the above-mentioned set of skills.
    So, I would definitely put this question to the Minister’s agenda 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dana, I definitely agree that physical activity fortifies intellectual potential of a human. However I disagree that children necesseraly need to be involved in competetive sports. Being an active participant of physical education classes at school, I ignored team sports and preferred more physically demanding activities. As a member of soccer or basketball team at school, I have always been observing negative emotions of both teams. The losing team blames a teammate for failed kick or in some cases there might take place a fight among two opposing team members. When I attended judo classes I also observed my peers feeling severe stress and depression during the competitions. Some of them were crying and hating their opponents after losing the wrestling. In my opinion, competetive sports generate destructive character traits. But you can say that it helps a child to be more competetive or “mature” in the future among his/her peers. However I do not consider these skills as inherent to “healthy” society. This skills are necessary only for the current economy in order to generate competetive workforce. In addition, giving places for winners might stimulate such so called “inborn” emotions as jealousy, hatred and cruelty. There are many examples of famous and successful athletes ended their life in deep depression or suicide after a fail in their career. High expectations on winning can generate depresson in case of losing. Therefore, I believe that competetive sports do not always ensure higher academic performance due to the emotional context of game results. Physical EDUCATION classes therefore should be more about educating to be fit and healthy rather than competing with peers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear, Khakim. Thank you very much for your response. I am not talking about making Olympic champions out of every child or just concentrating on team sports on every lesson. The point is about how we can draw the link between physical education classes and sports with other disciplines and if some of the skills can be thought through engaging into sports activities and games why not? Because these lessons are often ignored in schools and children do not even realize how fun it can be. And it is much engaging than just randomly throwing the ball to each other without knowing why, which happens.
        Well, for your point on destructive nature of competitive sports I would agree to disagree. Yes, negative emotions and stress are again inherent to our human nature and it is not always possible to avoid them, especially in sports. Perhaps, teachers may emphasize some of this aspects and monitor the environment and atmosphere during these games and teach how to be respectful towards opponents and team members. And add that team sports can teach how to work in a group and negotiate. Which is again on of the “must have” skills in a contemporary world. Moreover, I think that because (if we consider competitive team sports during the lesson) it happens among classmates that spend a lot of time together and are friends then it won’t be a problem and they will just have fun without being jealous or cruel to each other (from personal experience of my relationships with classmates). Thank you again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and discussion, Alina (5/5). Your argument and structure is clear and well developed, and you have generated a meaningful discussion in the comments. I would echo Dana’s last comment that acknowledges how team sports can bring out negative emotions, but that it should also equip young people with the ways to manage those feelings. As Dana writes, “Team sports can teach how to work in a group and negotiate.” I would put the onus of responsibility on the schools, teachers and coaches to teach young people how to play hard and win, but also lose gracefully and as a team. Looking back on my years of playing competitive soccer from ages 5-20, those lessons of teamwork, discipline, leadership, and dealing with defeat are some of the most important things I learned as a kid. More than anything, it was our coaches that taught us sportsmanship!


  3. Thank you, Alina, for your post and the topic that you have raised! As you remember, I had spoken about this topic before in the pair presentation because I love sport, exercising and a healthy and active lifestyle and cannot imagine my life without sport. Moreover, I am completely agree with the idea that there is a connection between exercising and our academic achievement. According to Dr. John Ratey, the author of the book “Spark”, making exercises triggers production of more neurotransmitters responsible for our thinking, memorization and motivation. The more exercises we do the more neurotransmitters are produced, which leads to an active brain work and increased cognitive abilities. It means, that it becomes easier for us to complete assignments and be more attentive and productive during the classes. Sport therefore improves not only our health, but our academic progress as well. And I definitely can underpin this by my own example, when I exercise regularly I really feel more energetic and inspired, ready to move mountains, whereas when I stop exercising for a week or more, my energy falls dramatically and I am constantly tired and absent-minded. And this of course affects my learning abilities. So, thank you again for sharing your thoughts! You have reminded me one more time the great importance of exercising in my life.


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