Exercise contributes to physical and mental well-being, but it may also be linked to better concentration and improved learning. Staying active can help improve your focus on everyday tasks or even treat the symptoms of an attention deficit disorder.

Exercise and Concentration in Children

A 2007 report from Dr. Stewart Trost of Oregon State University found that even short breaks of physical activity can improve concentration, behavior and memory in elementary school students.

The report found that children who exercised had more improved concentration and academic performance compared to those who had an additional lesson.

In the report Why We Should Not Cut P.E., Dr. Trost also points to three other studies that show physical education in school actually helps improve academic performance.

  • A Canadian study found that students in grades 2-6 who received an additional hour of physical education each day earned better grades in mathematics, French, science and English compared to students who received one period of P.E. per week.
  • A study from the CDC followed 5,316 students from kindergarten to 5th grade. Girls who received 70 minutes or more of physical education per week had significantly higher scores in reading and math than girls who received just 35 minutes or fewer per week. Physical activity appeared to have no significant effect on the academic performance of boys.
  • Another 2007 study found that students who received 56 hours or more of physical education each year scored higher on standardized tests for language arts and English in Massachusetts than comparable students who received 28 hours of P.E. per year.

USA Today’s Nanci Hellmich agrees with Trost’s findings. In her 2010 article, Hellmich says there are no negative associations between physical activity and concentration. After reviewing the research, Hellmich reports that increasing time in physical education classes improves concentration, attention and scores on standardized tests.

The Link Between Physical Activity and Concentration in Adults

In 2007, Newsweek’s Mary Carmichael reported findings that support Trost’s theory: children who performed well on fitness tests were also more likely to score high on concentration and academic tests.

These effects extend to adults. Three months of regular aerobic exercise has been linked to the formation of new neurons and denser, more diverse connections between those neurons.

Along with better concentration and overall improved brain functioning, Carmichael reports that physical exercise has also been linked to a lower risk of neurological and cognitive disorders, including ADHD and Alzheimer’s.

The 2008 book Brain Exercises to Cure ADHD, written by Dr. Amnon Gimpel of Israel’s Brain Power Clinic, explains how physical activity can help treat or even prevent the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults. According to Gimpel, activities that combine physical and mental focus, such as yoga, dancing and martial arts, may be more effective at improving ADHD symptoms.

At EuroPace we recommend that if you are finding it difficult to concentrate throughout the day then you should try to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your day. Whether you go for a brisk walk outside or go to the gym it will all help to concentrate the mind. If you are struggling for exercise ideas or motivation, Home Gym Sumo has a number great ideas that might interest you. You may even feel less stressed after you have finished exercising thanks to the endorphines that will be released.