Influence of Physical Activity on Cognitive Development and Functioning in Children - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Dissertation
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1293 Words
Date:  2022-08-15


Physical activity is a behavior and is influenced by many factors. Experts have noted that physical activity has an impact on cognitive functioning in childhood. Childhood is an important and sensitive development stage in the life of an individual. Cognitive development occurs during childhood. This study aims to investigate the effect of physical activity and sport on cognitive development in children in primary school. There is limited published research on sport and physical activity and cognitive functioning in children. Most of the research conducted is on the effects of physical activity on academic performance. In this study, the researcher presents studies that demonstrate the influence of physical activity on cognitive development and functioning in children.

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Keywords applied during the literature search process were; cognition, children, cognitive function, physical activity, sporting activities, brain, concentration, and academic performance. The researcher carried out a review of articles published between January 2000 and December 2017. A total of 547 articles identified in the literature search met the quality criteria. The articles ranged from, longitudinal studies, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and original research. The researcher mainly selected original research studies conducted by researcher between the selected periods related to the topic. The main areas analyzed relative to sports and childhood include; attention, thinking, language, learning, and memory.

According to the results of the study, improvements in cognitive executive functions are frequently associated with acute bouts of activity and fitness as well as improvements in academic performance. Engaging in physical activities as well as the sport has been found out to increase cognitive functioning in primary school children. Results from the study can be used by stakeholders in the education sector in Scotland to develop training programs which incorporate sport and physical activity aimed at improving cognitive functioning and development in children in primary school.

Operational Definitions

Physical Activity: the term Physical activity in the study is used to refer to the movement of the body produced by skeletal muscles and which requires energy. Physical activities considered include active games, exercise, and sports programs.

Sporting Activities: the term is used to refer to all activities relating to sports. Such activities may include football, hockey, athletics, table tennis, long tennis, baseball among others.

Primary School Children: primary school children referred to in the study included students between the ages of 5 and 9 years of age.

Cognition: refers to a set of mental processes of acquiring knowledge as well as an understanding by children in the class, that contribute to memory, perception, intellect, and action. The study included the various aspects of cognitive functioning, i.e., learning, language, executive function, academic achievement, memory, concentration/attention, and intelligence quotient.


The chapter establishes the objective of researching to investigate the relationship between sporting and physical activities and concentration of children in primary school. This is achieved by providing an introduction of physical activity in schools and discussing the benefits of being active physically. Statement of the problem, statement of purpose, as well as the limitations expected in the study, are also provided in this chapter.

Background of the Study

Much progress has been made in the United Kingdom and more specifically in Scotland at the primary school and the secondary levels on the benefits of physical and sporting activities. Many scholars and teachers have been lobbying for an increase in the time allocated for physical education within the school curriculum. This has happened after the various stakeholders came to recognition of the physical, mental and social benefits to students as a result of physical education. There is a sharp distinction between mental and physical activities. According to Sember (2017), physical activity refers to any activity that raises heart rate and which can be implemented in the form of sports. Physical activity from a physiological point of view refers to an activity which is produced by contraction of skeletal muscles and which requires energy consumption. The intensity of physical exercise can vary depending on the outcome expected. For example, the intensity can be from a simple twitch of a muscle to an all-out sprint. The intensity of physical activity can be classified according to the energy expenditure. The main categories of physical activity intensity include; sedentary behavior, light activity, moderate activity, and vigorous activity.

Most of the aged population in the United Kingdom does not get the daily recommended number of minutes of physical activity. According to Sember (2017), 95% of the adult population does not meet the modest physical activity guidelines. According to the UK government health statistics, the annual cost of the physical activity is approximately PS8.2 billion while that of alcohol is PS3.0 billion, smoking PS1.5 billion and obesity at PS4.2 billion. The cost of public health and finances in the UK is high. However, very little attention has been placed on the importance of physical activity and how it can be used to reduce this burden. The pattern of physical inactivity in adult population begins early on in life. Primary and elementary school should, therefore, be where the importance of physical activity is instilled. On the contrary, however, physical education classes are being eliminated from the school curriculum.

Physical education is a very important component in child development. Children are mostly recognized as innately curious and physically active. Research on the importance of physical activity has determined that the physical movements of the body are vital to brain development. Researchers in the United Kingdom report that children are growing increasingly sedentary which is as a result of the luck on adequate physical activity to increase their brain development. According to Botagariyev et al. (2016), the sedentary lifestyle experienced in children and students is caused by factors such as increased time on screen, i.e., time spent on TV, computer games and other gaming systems. Children's failure to go outside and play either due to inadequate supervision is also another case of the sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle is likely to result in health complications which might occur at an early age or later during adulthood.

Research on benefits of physical movement has been conducted by a number of researchers in the UK and other countries. Different researchers have investigated the correlation that exists between physical movement and health. Researchers seek to understand the importance of cardiac, muscle, joint, pulmonary functioning as well as psychological functioning. A positive relationship has been proven to exist between regular physical movement and the healthy functioning of all the functioning of muscle, cardiac, joint, pulmonary and psychological functioning. Inadequate physical activity is responsible for various health concerns. These health problems include; premature deaths, overweight and obese, physical conditions, blood circulation problems, and posture problems. According to various research studies, adolescents who fail to participate in physical and sporting activities regularly have higher chances of developing risk behaviors which may include alcohol and drugs abuse as well as cases of suicide attempts. Empirical research on the relationship that exists between health and physical activity is increasing with more and more research being conducted to supplement the already available information.

The physical movement has also improved cognitive functioning of children. According to Botagariyev et al., (2016), regular physical activity increases the amount of oxygen which is delivered to the brain and thus increases the cognitive ability-capacity to learn in children. Research has on the relationship that exists between anxiety and movement of the body has indicated that anxiety is reduced by brain gym exercises and balanced body movement.

Engaging in sports helps protect children against somatic illnesses as pathological behaviors. Participation in sporting activities ensures that the child can balance between personal demands and group demands. Sporting activities also provide equilibrium between aggressive behaviors and self-control. Through sporting, an individual is capable of appreciating a sense of belonging to a group. It also teaches a child how to cope with victory and defeat. An immat...

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