Hamilton study ties school results to fitness results

(Update)
A new study linking physical fitness to academic success in children — is based on the performance of students in Hamilton. And today, the results were released.

This study was done by Start2Finish which is a national charity that focuses on eliminating child poverty through education. And even though it took place within a relatively short period of time — just four months — researchers and educators say they’ve already seen some pretty positive results.

Doing more rollerblading could lead to better grades, according to a new Hamilton based study by the charity Start2Finish which says the more active a kid, the more academic he or she will be.

Brian Timmons, lead researcher: “Kids in the lowest category of fitness had the lowest grades, kids in the highest category of fitness had the highest grades taken right from the report card.”

The study looked at 800 elementary and secondary school students in Hamilton and tested their level of fitness before the study began. Over the next four months, the kids took part in the 20/20 challenge, doing 20 minutes of physical fitness for 20 weeks straight.

“Daily physical activity is essential for kids overall health, including cognitive function and I think that in Ontario, the daily physical activity mandate DPA is not implemented as well as it could be and so the 20/20 challenge is a solution to that problem.”

And local school boards are already seeing a change in students behaviour.

Joseph Cuerto, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board: “We saw that children that participated in daily physical activity were happy to come to school. Their self-esteem improved. They were attending classes more often.”

Manny Figueiredo, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board: “What does it look like to provide 20 minutes of DPA in an outdoor setting, in a regular classroom. What does it look like to do it without the physical resources, but using your body weight and resistance? So we see this as filling a great gap for us and a strong partnership.”

Start2Finish says this is the first generation that will not outlive its parents because of the sedentary nature of our society. But implementing the 20/20 challenge will allow kids of all socio-economic backgrounds to take part.

Brian Warren, Start2Finish: “Everyone can do this in limited spaces and what we’re doing is providing a tool that enables all of our citizens to level the playing field and live a healthier life.”

The study concluded just two weeks ago, so the results today didn’t include a complete look at the trends and correlations they may have found in the data. Start2Finish will be releasing more findings in November at a symposium which both the Hamilton Catholic and public school board will be at. The charity says it’s next step is pushing for the provincial and federal government to mandate the 20/20 challenge for all schools in the country.


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