Exercise and Health for Effective Learning

Our bodies are designed to move.  Primary school children should not be idle for more than two hours at a time.  They need to run, jump and climb in order to grow into healthy adults.  Give children toys that will make them move around, such as a skipping rope, Frisbee, bats and balls.

Make exercise a family activity by playing ball games together, going to the beach or hiking.  Go to the park and play on the playground equipment.

Encourage your children to play team sports, as this increases both agility and social skills.  In primary school the emphasis should be on participation rather than competition.

Make exercise a game rather than a chore.  Children need to have fun while exercising, by playing games such as chase, tug-of-war, ball games or hop-scotch.

Limit time in front of the television or computer.  Encourage your children to get up and move around between periods of homework or studying (See Lesson 9 of Study Right ZA: Study Skills for Grades 6 – 8).  This will help them to maintain focus during their working time.

How much exercise is necessary?

  • Primary school children need 2 hours per day.
  • High school children need 1 hour per day.
  • Adults need 30 minutes on 5 days of the week.

Why exercise?

Exercise builds healthy bones and muscles.  Most bone density develops before the age of 18.  The more dense and stronger the bones are, the less likelihood there is of developing osteoporosis in later adult life.

Exercise helps to reduce body fat and the likelihood of becoming overweight, with all the concomitant health problems, such as an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  It can help to reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

Exercise helps to develop gross motor co-ordination and the sense of balance, which are important for more complex sporting skills.

Exercise helps to improve one’s outlook on life and can help lift depression.  A healthy body makes for a healthy mind that can learn and grow.


Reference:  Weekend Argus supplement: Safe and Sound. “Play it Safe” by Chelsea Geach – December 2013


  • Carol

    Exercise a great stress and tension reliever. On the morning before my UNISA exam my parents and I went to Boulders Beach to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. The peace and tranquillity was great. The movement out of indoors and at a desk was a pleasure… The exam went well, the stress had left and I was ready. no studying on the day of the exam.

  • Nerina

    Well said! Not only does Study Right za offer a systematic approach to learning/studying, it covers issues like EXERCISE, essential to a child’s well-being and ability to concentrate. Especially children who are not selected to play for the school team in a sport, should be encouraged to find fun ways to excercise, for the above reasons!

  • Karen Gottschalk

    Thank you for the comments! Regular exercise in childhood will help set the pattern for regular exercise in adulthood.

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