The impact of nutrition and physical activity on academic performance is a topic that has been extensively studied.
Research suggests that both nutrition and physical activity play significant roles in a student’s academic performance. In addition, studies also indicate that a balanced diet, an adequate number of hours of sleep, a reduction in screen time and moderate to high levels of physical activity, have been associated with better academic achievements, cognitive functioning and brain morphology in children especially for early elementary and middle school students.
Children between the ages of 6 and 14 are defined as school-age children. Moreover, school children need adequate and balanced nutrition. This is for the healthy development of their physical and mental structures.
Since children in this age group are in constant biological change, they need more energy and other nutrients. More quality protein, vitamins and minerals are required for the construction of new tissues.
The Impact of Nutrition on Academic Performance
Nutrition is important for brain development and function. A balanced diet that includes essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals can support cognitive abilities, memory and concentration.
Studies have shown that students who have healthy diets, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, tend to perform better academically.
Another study examined the relationship between nutrition education programs. This was applied to students and students’ Nutritional Behaviour, sports performance and academic achievement.
Based on the results of the International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology (IJEMST), attention should be paid to the adequate and balanced nutrition of students during the day. The decisive effect of nutrition on behaviour, sports performance and academic achievement is to be emphasised.
In essence, basic nutrition is important for growth, achieving good health, providing energy and scholastic achievement. Balancing energy intake with energy expenditure is crucial to prevent an energy deficit or excess.
Effects of Nutrition on a Child
- Iron deficiency, even in early stages, can decrease dopamine transmission, thus negatively impacting cognition.
- Deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, specifically thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine and zinc, are shown to inhibit cognitive abilities and mental concentration.
- Additionally, amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation can improve perception, intuition and reasoning.
- Improvements in nutrient intake can influence the cognitive ability and intelligence levels of school-aged children.
- Good Nutrition, helps students show up at school prepared to learn.
- Malnutrition leads to behaviour problems.
- Sugar has a negative impact on child behaviour.
The Impacts of Physical Activities on a Child
Physical activities also have positive impacts on academic performance. Regular exercise helps improve blood circulation and oxygenation to the brain, which can enhance cognitive function and memory. Physical activity reduces stress, improves mood and increases attention span, all of which contribute to better academic performance.
In a study, it was observed that total volume, duration, intensity, and type of physical activity may have a significant effect on academic performance. Notably, physical activity levels of 90 minutes or more per week were associated with improved academic performance. Also noticed in physical activity performed at moderate to vigorous and high intensity.
The Positive Effects of Physical Activity on a Child
- The flow of oxygen to the brain is increased.
- The number of brain neurotransmitters is increased, which assists your ability to focus, concentrate, learn, remember and handle stress.
- The number of brain-derived neurotrophins is increased, which assures the survival of neurons in areas of the brain that are responsible for learning, memory and higher thinking.
- Physical activity boosts children’s self-esteem.
- It nurtures relationships with peers, parents and teachers.
- A caring environment that supports autonomy enhances kids’ motivation, their behaviour relating to physical activity and their general well-being.
- Regular and organised physical activity training promotes life skills (interpersonal, self-regulation) and core values like respect and social responsibility.
Positive Impacts of Nutrition and Physical Activities on Academic Performance
Students who are physically active or participate in Physical Education (PE) tend to have better grades, school attendance, memory, standardised test scores, and classroom behaviour. Additionally, Students who participate in activities outside of school, like sports teams for example, tend to have a higher grade point average, lower dropout rates, and fewer disciplinary problems in school.
Short physical activity breaks, lasting about 5-10 minutes in length, have been shown to improve memory, concentration and classroom behaviour. In addition, spending more time in PE does not diminish academic achievement overall.
Eating breakfast makes it easy for students to stay alert and focused, remember crucial information and solve problems. Eating the recommended amounts of healthy foods (like fruits, veggies and dairy products) that contain essential nutrients (like vitamin A, B6, B12, C, folate, iron, zinc and calcium) is linked to higher grades and attendance rates.
You are more likely to be tired and perform poorly during physical activities when you do not get enough calories, carbohydrates, fluids, iron, vitamins, protein and other minerals.
It’s worth noting that the relationship between nutrition, physical activity and academic performance is complex and can be influenced by various factors. Each individual may respond differently. Also, other factors like sleep, stress levels, and overall well-being also play a significant role.
Furthermore, maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activities can have a positive impact on academic performance. Encouraging healthy habits and providing opportunities for nutritious meals and physical activity can support the overall well-being of the students and enhance their academic achievements.
RESEARCHED BY: OLUKOTUN JOAN.