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Benefits of Physical Activity

Practising physical activities on a regular basis improves health and quality of life, prevents chronic diseases, and strengthens social cohesiveness [1].

Effects on health

Physical activity during childhood before puberty is particularly beneficial as some effects persist into adulthood [2].

Benefits of physical activity and sport
during childhood and adolescence [3]
Physical condition Motor skills, strength, flexibility, cardiorespiratory capacity, balance, agility, coordination
Psychological well-being and mental health Mood, self-esteem, self-efficacy, reduction in stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms
Social skills Social network, confidence, conflict-resolution skills, reduction in isolation and delinquency
Healthy living habits Eating habits, quality of sleep, physical activity in adulthood

Effects on academic success

Studies show that physical activity improves academic performance by fostering the appearance of factors that predispose students to learning [4, 5, 6, 7, 8]:

  • Physical activity improves attention skills, concentration, memory, and classroom behaviour.
  • Practising physical activities or sports fosters a sense of belonging at school and tends to promote greater academic perseverance.
  • Physical activity fosters self-esteem, self-control, and social skills.
  • Young people who are in better physical shape get better grades at school.

Schools have long been recognized as establishments favourable to physical activity initiatives. More than ever, they are becoming an ideal setting for encouraging and supporting a physically active lifestyle among young people [9].

Would you like to discuss this topic with us?

Contact Corinne Voyer, Director:

[1] Global Advocacy for Physical Activity, the Advocacy Council of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (2010). Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call to Action. Consulted on January 14, 2013.

[2], [3] et [4] Comité scientifique de Kino-Québec (2011). L’activité physique, le sport et les jeunes – Savoir et agir. Québec : Secrétariat au loisir et au sport, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport. Gouvernement du Québec.

[5] Sigfusdottir, I. D., Kristjansson, A. L. & Allegrante, J. P. (2007). Health Behaviour and Academic Achievement in Icelandic School Children, Health Education Research, 22 (1), 70-80.

[6] Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I. & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature reviews Neuroscience, 9, 58-65.

[7] Trudeau, F. & Shephard, R. J. (2008). Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5 (10). Consulted on January 8, 2013.

[8] Rasberry, C. N. & coll. (2011). The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance: a systematic review of the literature. Preventive Medicine, 52 (1), S10-S20.

[9] Naylor, P. J. & McKay, H. A. (2009). Prevention in the first place: schools a setting for action on physical inactivity. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43 (1), 10-13. 

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