Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

New Studies Link Learning Skills to Physical Activity Levels

Dec 15, 2015 10:59AM ● By Rachel Hall
Cottonwood Heights - For most children, the shorter days of fall and winter limit time and opportunity for active, physical play. This is a problem, says Braden Smith of The Little Gym of Cottonwood Heights, because current research indicates that physical activity is much more than simply fun and games; it is an important contributor to successful learning.

A recent study that set out to look at the health effects of excess body fat and inactivity in children discovered a link between physical activity and brain function.* Researchers compared mental skills between active children and inactive children and found that, even among children of normal weight, active children did better on tests that involved skills like planning and paying attention. Smith says that these results are good news, because physical activity is something that families can take steps to boost by supplementing, if necessary, the physical education that their children receive during the school day.

While studies like this one show that physical exercise can enhance a child's ability to learn, the majority of parents responding to a recent poll that National Public Radio conducted in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health gave their children's schools a low grade for their lack of focus on physical activity.** This contradiction challenges parents of school age children to find a way to incorporate physical activity into their child's day, outside of school, says Smith.

Fortunately, families have a range of options to choose from to encourage their children to stay physically active. School- or community-based sports programs provide children with an opportunity to grow both their physical and social skills. Some children thrive on specialized training in disciplines like gymnastics or dance and some children turn to neighborhood friends for active play. The important thing is to choose a program that your child enjoys so that it's something the child will want to continue to do, says Smith. Parents of toddlers and preschoolers should also take note: making physical activity a habit for your children at an early age may not only enhance your child's potential to learn; it will also help lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy living.

The fun programs at The Little Gym of Cottonwood Heights help children ages 4 months to 12 years develop physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills in a supportive, non-competitive environment. For more information, please contact Braden Smith, owner of The Little Gym of Cottonwood Heights, located at 7813 South Highland Drive, at 801-569-2549 or [email protected], visit them at, or go to