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Plan, Prepare & Make the Best Career Choices

Physical Exercise Essay - 100, 200, 500 Words

A critical factor in determining health is physical exercise. Everyone benefits from physical activity, which not only keeps you healthy and robust but, when started early, can form positive habits for life. However, there are occasions when people neglect their physical health, leading to problems that harm our health. Here are a few sample essays on physical exercise.

100 Words Essay on Physical Exercise

200 word essay on physical exercise, 500 words essay on physical exercise, importance of exercise, types of exercises.

Physical Exercise Essay - 100, 200, 500 Words

"Health is Wealth" happiness comes from having good health. Physical fitness and mental alertness can be accomplished by exercise. We all should play different types of sports for physical fitness. Physical activity can help us maintain good health and keep away from diseases. Many diseases happen due to a lack of physical activity, like heart problems, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. We should do a variety of yoga and physical exercise to stay in good physical and mental health. Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for maintaining good health and can also help in reducing stress.

Physical exercise is essential for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight, regulating the digestive system, and building and maintaining nutritional bone density.

Various Kinds of Physical Exercise

There are numerous ways to exercise, including walking, riding a bike, swimming, and playing various outdoor sports. Following are some of the activities that people can do to remain physically fit—

Yard work (mowing, raking)

Climbing stairs or hills.

Playing outdoor sports.


People without good health cannot enjoy the abundance of wealth. Physical exercise improves our memory and brain function among all age groups. It protects against many chronic diseases. Physical activity helps in weight management and improves heart health. Most importantly, it reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and improves our quality of sleep.

Disadvantages of Not Exercising

Circulatory System Problems

Weight Gain

Joint and Bone Fragility

Lack of Endurance

Lack of Physical Strength When You Need It.

Loss of Balance

Loss of Flexibility

Loss of Mobility

Engaging in regular physical activity always produces improvements in physical health and psychological well-being. Physical exercise reduces the risk of diseases, improvements in physical functioning, and fitness, and overall improves quality of life.

Exercise is the repetitive performance of physical work or physical exercise to unwind the body and relieve mental stress. Physical Exercise should be done every day throughout everyone's life.

If someone exercises regularly, the benefits of doing so are frequently noticeable relatively fast. A person needs to be physically and intellectually fit because, as we have all heard, "A healthy mind dwells in a healthy body". So exercising every day is necessary if one wants to stay healthy and fit. In our daily lives, exercise is essential. It helps in maintaining our physical fitness.

Exercise will help you lose weight rapidly if you're overweight because it burns calories while working out. Even though you aren't exercising, your body's weight will increase as your muscles grow, which will cause you to burn more calories than usual. Exercise will also help improve our body's blood flow and oxygen levels.

Exercise causes the brain cells to release them more frequently, which helps in the hippocampus's generation of new cells. The brain's hippocampus is the area that assists in memory regulation and learning.

Reducing vital signs, which can assist in lessening the strain on your heart, is one of the additional health benefits of exercise for the soul.

Your body will have a low risk of getting cardiac ailments if you exercise regularly and eat healthily.

Exercise also helps to control our body's blood sugar levels. They will contribute to the prevention or postponement of type 2 diabetes. One of the leading causes of diabetes is being overweight, which can be managed with daily exercise.

Exercise helps in revitalising and reconditioning our entire body. It helps in the development of strong muscles. Exercise can help people lose weight or prevent obesity. It preserves the young and slows down the process of ageing.

Exercise is essential for maintaining health and fitness because it is necessary for all aspects of life.

Everyone should exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay free from diseases.

Both mental and physical development is essential for success in life . Exercise is, therefore, crucial for one's general development. We should keep a healthy balance between school, rest, and activities.

  • Morning walk

Gymnastics exercise

Free-Hand Exercises

Outdoor sports

My Experience

At the age of 16, I was too fat and unable to run for more than 5 minutes. Due to my weight, I was suffering from many types of diseases. Soon after this, my father pushed me to exercise every morning because exercise frees our body and mind from stress. Every morning my father and I started going to the garden to do activities like yoga, morning walk, flexibility, and many more. In school, our physical education teacher also took all children to the ground to exercise and play outdoor games. Later, I noticed that I was recovering slowly from several diseases and lost a lot of weight. I could see the difference in my energy levels and overall performance and realised that we all should exercise every day.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

  • Construction
  • Entertainment
  • Manufacturing
  • Information Technology

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 

Operations Manager

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.


How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

GIS officer work on various GIS software to conduct a study and gather spatial and non-spatial information. GIS experts update the GIS data and maintain it. The databases include aerial or satellite imagery, latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, and manually digitized images of maps. In a career as GIS expert, one is responsible for creating online and mobile maps.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Database Architect

If you are intrigued by the programming world and are interested in developing communications networks then a career as database architect may be a good option for you. Data architect roles and responsibilities include building design models for data communication networks. Wide Area Networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), and intranets are included in the database networks. It is expected that database architects will have in-depth knowledge of a company's business to develop a network to fulfil the requirements of the organisation. Stay tuned as we look at the larger picture and give you more information on what is db architecture, why you should pursue database architecture, what to expect from such a degree and what your job opportunities will be after graduation. Here, we will be discussing how to become a data architect. Students can visit NIT Trichy , IIT Kharagpur , JMI New Delhi . 

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Finance Executive

A career as a Finance Executive requires one to be responsible for monitoring an organisation's income, investments and expenses to create and evaluate financial reports. His or her role involves performing audits, invoices, and budget preparations. He or she manages accounting activities, bank reconciliations, and payable and receivable accounts.  

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

Investment Banker

An Investment Banking career involves the invention and generation of capital for other organizations, governments, and other entities. Individuals who opt for a career as Investment Bankers are the head of a team dedicated to raising capital by issuing bonds. Investment bankers are termed as the experts who have their fingers on the pulse of the current financial and investing climate. Students can pursue various Investment Banker courses, such as Banking and Insurance , and  Economics to opt for an Investment Banking career path.


An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

A career as financial advisor is all about assessing one’s financial situation, understanding what one wants to do with his or her money, and helping in creating a plan to reach one’s financial objectives. An Individual who opts for a career as financial advisor helps individuals and corporations reduce spending, pay off their debt, and save and invest for the future. The financial advisor job description includes working closely with both individuals and corporations to help them attain their financial objectives.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

Conservation Architect

A Conservation Architect is a professional responsible for conserving and restoring buildings or monuments having a historic value. He or she applies techniques to document and stabilise the object’s state without any further damage. A Conservation Architect restores the monuments and heritage buildings to bring them back to their original state.

Safety Manager

A Safety Manager is a professional responsible for employee’s safety at work. He or she plans, implements and oversees the company’s employee safety. A Safety Manager ensures compliance and adherence to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines.

A Team Leader is a professional responsible for guiding, monitoring and leading the entire group. He or she is responsible for motivating team members by providing a pleasant work environment to them and inspiring positive communication. A Team Leader contributes to the achievement of the organisation’s goals. He or she improves the confidence, product knowledge and communication skills of the team members and empowers them.

Structural Engineer

A Structural Engineer designs buildings, bridges, and other related structures. He or she analyzes the structures and makes sure the structures are strong enough to be used by the people. A career as a Structural Engineer requires working in the construction process. It comes under the civil engineering discipline. A Structure Engineer creates structural models with the help of computer-aided design software. 

Individuals in the architecture career are the building designers who plan the whole construction keeping the safety and requirements of the people. Individuals in architect career in India provides professional services for new constructions, alterations, renovations and several other activities. Individuals in architectural careers in India visit site locations to visualize their projects and prepare scaled drawings to submit to a client or employer as a design. Individuals in architecture careers also estimate build costs, materials needed, and the projected time frame to complete a build.

Landscape Architect

Having a landscape architecture career, you are involved in site analysis, site inventory, land planning, planting design, grading, stormwater management, suitable design, and construction specification. Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York introduced the title “landscape architect”. The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) proclaims that "Landscape Architects research, plan, design and advise on the stewardship, conservation and sustainability of development of the environment and spaces, both within and beyond the built environment". Therefore, individuals who opt for a career as a landscape architect are those who are educated and experienced in landscape architecture. Students need to pursue various landscape architecture degrees, such as  M.Des , M.Plan to become landscape architects. If you have more questions regarding a career as a landscape architect or how to become a landscape architect then you can read the article to get your doubts cleared. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor

A veterinary doctor is a medical professional with a degree in veterinary science. The veterinary science qualification is the minimum requirement to become a veterinary doctor. There are numerous veterinary science courses offered by various institutes. He or she is employed at zoos to ensure they are provided with good health facilities and medical care to improve their life expectancy.


A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist


Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.


The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Dental Surgeon

A Dental Surgeon is a professional who possesses specialisation in advanced dental procedures and aesthetics. Dental surgeon duties and responsibilities may include fitting dental prosthetics such as crowns, caps, bridges, veneers, dentures and implants following apicoectomy and other surgical procedures.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Talent Agent

The career as a Talent Agent is filled with responsibilities. A Talent Agent is someone who is involved in the pre-production process of the film. It is a very busy job for a Talent Agent but as and when an individual gains experience and progresses in the career he or she can have people assisting him or her in work. Depending on one’s responsibilities, number of clients and experience he or she may also have to lead a team and work with juniors under him or her in a talent agency. In order to know more about the job of a talent agent continue reading the article.

If you want to know more about talent agent meaning, how to become a Talent Agent, or Talent Agent job description then continue reading this article.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.


Careers in videography are art that can be defined as a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than a simple recording of a simple event. It would be wrong to portrait it as a subcategory of photography, rather photography is one of the crafts used in videographer jobs in addition to technical skills like organization, management, interpretation, and image-manipulation techniques. Students pursue Visual Media , Film, Television, Digital Video Production to opt for a videographer career path. The visual impacts of a film are driven by the creative decisions taken in videography jobs. Individuals who opt for a career as a videographer are involved in the entire lifecycle of a film and production. 

Multimedia Specialist

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

An individual who is pursuing a career as a producer is responsible for managing the business aspects of production. They are involved in each aspect of production from its inception to deception. Famous movie producers review the script, recommend changes and visualise the story. 

They are responsible for overseeing the finance involved in the project and distributing the film for broadcasting on various platforms. A career as a producer is quite fulfilling as well as exhaustive in terms of playing different roles in order for a production to be successful. Famous movie producers are responsible for hiring creative and technical personnel on contract basis.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Travel Journalist

The career of a travel journalist is full of passion, excitement and responsibility. Journalism as a career could be challenging at times, but if you're someone who has been genuinely enthusiastic about all this, then it is the best decision for you. Travel journalism jobs are all about insightful, artfully written, informative narratives designed to cover the travel industry. Travel Journalist is someone who explores, gathers and presents information as a news article.

SEO Analyst

An SEO Analyst is a web professional who is proficient in the implementation of SEO strategies to target more keywords to improve the reach of the content on search engines. He or she provides support to acquire the goals and success of the client’s campaigns. 

Quality Controller

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

Production Manager

Reliability engineer.

Are you searching for a Reliability Engineer job description? A Reliability Engineer is responsible for ensuring long lasting and high quality products. He or she ensures that materials, manufacturing equipment, components and processes are error free. A Reliability Engineer role comes with the responsibility of minimising risks and effectiveness of processes and equipment. 

Corporate Executive

Are you searching for a Corporate Executive job description? A Corporate Executive role comes with administrative duties. He or she provides support to the leadership of the organisation. A Corporate Executive fulfils the business purpose and ensures its financial stability. In this article, we are going to discuss how to become corporate executive.

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

Information Security Manager

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

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.net developer.

.NET Developer Job Description: A .NET Developer is a professional responsible for producing code using .NET languages. He or she is a software developer who uses the .NET technologies platform to create various applications. Dot NET Developer job comes with the responsibility of  creating, designing and developing applications using .NET languages such as VB and C#. 

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Importance of Exercise Essay

500 words essay on exercise essay.

Exercise is basically any physical activity that we perform on a repetitive basis for relaxing our body and taking away all the mental stress. It is important to do regular exercise. When you do this on a daily basis, you become fit both physically and mentally. Moreover, not exercising daily can make a person susceptible to different diseases. Thus, just like eating food daily, we must also exercise daily. The importance of exercise essay will throw more light on it.

importance of exercise essay

Importance of Exercise

Exercising is most essential for proper health and fitness. Moreover, it is essential for every sphere of life. Especially today’s youth need to exercise more than ever. It is because the junk food they consume every day can hamper their quality of life.

If you are not healthy, you cannot lead a happy life and won’t be able to contribute to the expansion of society. Thus, one needs to exercise to beat all these problems. But, it is not just about the youth but also about every member of the society.

These days, physical activities take places in colleges more than often. The professionals are called to the campus for organizing physical exercises. Thus, it is a great opportunity for everyone who wishes to do it.

Just like exercise is important for college kids, it is also essential for office workers. The desk job requires the person to sit at the desk for long hours without breaks. This gives rise to a very unhealthy lifestyle.

They get a limited amount of exercise as they just sit all day then come back home and sleep. Therefore, it is essential to exercise to adopt a healthy lifestyle that can also prevent any damaging diseases .

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has a lot of benefits in today’s world. First of all, it helps in maintaining your weight. Moreover, it also helps you reduce weight if you are overweight. It is because you burn calories when you exercise.

Further, it helps in developing your muscles. Thus, the rate of your body will increases which helps to burn calories. Moreover, it also helps in improving the oxygen level and blood flow of the body.

When you exercise daily, your brain cells will release frequently. This helps in producing cells in the hippocampus. Moreover, it is the part of the brain which helps to learn and control memory.

The concentration level in your body will improve which will ultimately lower the danger of disease like Alzheimer’s. In addition, you can also reduce the strain on your heart through exercise. Finally, it controls the blood sugar levels of your body so it helps to prevent or delay diabetes.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Conclusion of Importance of Exercise Essay

In order to live life healthily, it is essential to exercise for mental and physical development. Thus, exercise is important for the overall growth of a person. It is essential to maintain a balance between work, rest and activities. So, make sure to exercise daily.

FAQ of Importance of Exercise Essay

Question 1: What is the importance of exercise?

Answer 1: Exercise helps people lose weight and lower the risk of some diseases. When you exercise daily, you lower the risk of developing some diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and more. It also helps to keep your body at a healthy weight.

Question 2: Why is exercising important for students?

Answer 2: Exercising is important for students because it helps students to enhance their cardiorespiratory fitness and build strong bones and muscles. In addition, it also controls weight and reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Further, it can also reduce the risk of health conditions like heart diseases and more.

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Physical Activity Is Good for the Mind and the Body

essay about physical activities

Health and Well-Being Matter is the monthly blog of the Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Everyone has their own way to “recharge” their sense of well-being — something that makes them feel good physically, emotionally, and spiritually even if they aren’t consciously aware of it. Personally, I know that few things can improve my day as quickly as a walk around the block or even just getting up from my desk and doing some push-ups. A hike through the woods is ideal when I can make it happen. But that’s me. It’s not simply that I enjoy these activities but also that they literally make me feel better and clear my mind.

Mental health and physical health are closely connected. No kidding — what’s good for the body is often good for the mind. Knowing what you can do physically that has this effect for you will change your day and your life.

Physical activity has many well-established mental health benefits. These are published in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and include improved brain health and cognitive function (the ability to think, if you will), a reduced risk of anxiety and depression, and improved sleep and overall quality of life. Although not a cure-all, increasing physical activity directly contributes to improved mental health and better overall health and well-being.

Learning how to routinely manage stress and getting screened for depression are simply good prevention practices. Awareness is especially critical at this time of year when disruptions to healthy habits and choices can be more likely and more jarring. Shorter days and colder temperatures have a way of interrupting routines — as do the holidays, with both their joys and their stresses. When the plentiful sunshine and clear skies of temperate months give way to unpredictable weather, less daylight, and festive gatherings, it may happen unconsciously or seem natural to be distracted from being as physically active. However, that tendency is precisely why it’s so important that we are ever more mindful of our physical and emotional health — and how we can maintain both — during this time of year.

Roughly half of all people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime, with anxiety and anxiety disorders being the most common. Major depression, another of the most common mental health disorders, is also a leading cause of disability for middle-aged adults. Compounding all of this, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety can affect people’s ability to take part in health-promoting behaviors, including physical activity. In addition, physical health problems can contribute to mental health problems and make it harder for people to get treatment for mental health disorders.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need to take care of our physical and emotional health to light even more so these past 2 years. Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General highlighted how the pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis in youth .

The good news is that even small amounts of physical activity can immediately reduce symptoms of anxiety in adults and older adults. Depression has also shown to be responsive to physical activity. Research suggests that increased physical activity, of any kind, can improve depression symptoms experienced by people across the lifespan. Engaging in regular physical activity has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing depression in children and adults.

Though the seasons and our life circumstances may change, our basic needs do not. Just as we shift from shorts to coats or fresh summer fruits and vegetables to heartier fall food choices, so too must we shift our seasonal approach to how we stay physically active. Some of that is simply adapting to conditions: bundling up for a walk, wearing the appropriate shoes, or playing in the snow with the kids instead of playing soccer in the grass.

Sometimes there’s a bit more creativity involved. Often this means finding ways to simplify activity or make it more accessible. For example, it may not be possible to get to the gym or even take a walk due to weather or any number of reasons. In those instances, other options include adding new types of movement — such as impromptu dance parties at home — or doing a few household chores (yes, it all counts as physical activity).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I built a makeshift gym in my garage as an alternative to driving back and forth to the gym several miles from home. That has not only saved me time and money but also afforded me the opportunity to get 15 to 45 minutes of muscle-strengthening physical activity in at odd times of the day.

For more ideas on how to get active — on any day — or for help finding the motivation to get started, check out this Move Your Way® video .

The point to remember is that no matter the approach, the Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (anything that gets your heart beating faster) each week and at least 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening activity (anything that makes your muscles work harder than usual). Youth need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Preschool-aged children ages 3 to 5 years need to be active throughout the day — with adult caregivers encouraging active play — to enhance growth and development. Striving toward these goals and then continuing to get physical activity, in some shape or form, contributes to better health outcomes both immediately and over the long term.

For youth, sports offer additional avenues to more physical activity and improved mental health. Youth who participate in sports may enjoy psychosocial health benefits beyond the benefits they gain from other forms of leisure-time physical activity. Psychological health benefits include higher levels of perceived competence, confidence, and self-esteem — not to mention the benefits of team building, leadership, and resilience, which are important skills to apply on the field and throughout life. Research has also shown that youth sports participants have a reduced risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Additionally, team sports participation during adolescence may lead to better mental health outcomes in adulthood (e.g., less anxiety and depression) for people exposed to adverse childhood experiences. In addition to the physical and mental health benefits, sports can be just plain fun.

Physical activity’s implications for significant positive effects on mental health and social well-being are enormous, impacting every facet of life. In fact, because of this national imperative, the presidential executive order that re-established the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition explicitly seeks to “expand national awareness of the importance of mental health as it pertains to physical fitness and nutrition.” While physical activity is not a substitute for mental health treatment when needed and it’s not the answer to certain mental health challenges, it does play a significant role in our emotional and cognitive well-being.

No matter how we choose to be active during the holiday season — or any season — every effort to move counts toward achieving recommended physical activity goals and will have positive impacts on both the mind and the body. Along with preventing diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and the additional risks associated with these comorbidities, physical activity’s positive effect on mental health is yet another important reason to be active and Move Your Way .

As for me… I think it’s time for a walk. Happy and healthy holidays, everyone!

Yours in health, Paul

Paul Reed, MD Rear Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Director, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.

Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by ODPHP or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.

You will be subject to the destination website's privacy policy when you follow the link.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Obesity and Excess Weight Increase Risk of Severe Illness; Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist

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Immediate Benefits

Weight management, reduce your health risk, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, increase your chances of living longer, manage chronic health conditions & disabilities.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health , help manage weight , reduce the risk of disease , strengthen bones and muscles , and improve your ability to do everyday activities .

Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity.

Everyone can experience the health benefits of physical activity – age, abilities, ethnicity, shape, or size do not matter.

Some benefits of physical activity on brain health [PDF-14.4MB] happen right after a session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Benefits include improved thinking or cognition for children 6 to 13 years of age and reduced short-term feelings of anxiety for adults. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.

Both eating patterns and physical activity routines play a critical role in weight management. You gain weight when you consume more calories through eating and drinking than the amount of calories you burn , including those burned during physical activity.

To maintain your weight:  Work your way up to 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, which could include dancing or yard work. You could achieve the goal of 150 minutes a week with 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

People vary greatly in how much physical activity they need for weight management. You may need to be more active than others to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your eating patterns and reduce the amount of calories you’re eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and healthy eating.

See more information about:

  • Getting started with weight loss .
  • Getting started with physical activity .
  • Improving your eating patterns .

Benefits of Physical Activity

Learn more about the health benefits of physical activity  for children, adults, and adults age 65 and older.

See these tips  on getting started.

The good news [PDF-14.5MB]  is that  moderate physical activity , such as brisk walking, is generally  safe for most people .

Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease and stroke are two leading causes of death in the United States. Getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity can put you at a lower risk for these diseases. You can reduce your risk even further with more physical activity. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.

Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes  and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is some combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar. People start to see benefits at levels from physical activity even without meeting the recommendations for 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. Additional amounts of physical activity seem to lower risk even more.

Infectious Diseases

Physical activity may help reduce the risk of serious outcomes from infectious diseases, including COVID-19, the flu, and pneumonia. For example:

  • People who do little or no physical activity are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 than those who are physically active. A CDC systematic review [PDF-931KB] found that physical activity is associated with a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, while inactivity increases that risk.
  • People who are more active may be less likely to die from flu or pneumonia. A CDC study found that adults who meet the aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity guidelines are about half as likely to die from flu and pneumonia as adults who meet neither guideline.

Some Cancers

Being physically active lowers your risk for developing several common cancers .  Adults who participate in greater amounts of physical activity have reduced risks of developing cancers of the:

  • Colon (proximal and distal)
  • Endometrium
  • Esophagus (adenocarcinoma)
  • Stomach (cardia and non-cardia adenocarcinoma)

If you are a cancer survivor, getting regular physical activity  not only helps give you a better quality of life, but also improves your physical fitness.

Regular Physical Activity Helps Lower Your Cancer Risk

Learn more about Physical Activity and Cancer

A woman jogging in a park with her dog.

As you age, it’s important to protect your bones, joints, and muscles – they support your body and help you move. Keeping bones, joints, and muscles healthy can help ensure that you’re able to do your daily activities and be physically active.

Muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength. This is important for older adults who experience reduced muscle mass and muscle strength with aging. Slowly increasing the amount of weight and number of repetitions you do as part of muscle strengthening activities will give you even more benefits, no matter your age.

Everyday activities include climbing stairs, grocery shopping, or playing with your grandchildren. Being unable to do everyday activities is called a functional limitation. Physically active middle-aged or older adults have a lower risk of functional limitations than people who are inactive.

For older adults, doing a variety of physical activity improves physical function and decreases the risk of falls or injury from a fall . Include physical activities such as aerobic, muscle strengthening, and balance training. Multicomponent physical activity can be done at home or in a community setting as part of a structured program.

Hip fracture is a serious health condition that can result from a fall. Breaking a hip have life-changing negative effects, especially if you’re an older adult. Physically active people have a lower risk of hip fracture than inactive people.

See physical activity recommendations for different groups, including:

  • Children age 3-5 .
  • Children and adolescents age 6-17 .
  • Adults age 18-64 .
  • Adults 65 and older .
  • Adults with chronic health conditions and disabilities .
  • Healthy pregnant and postpartum women .

An estimated 110,000 deaths  per year could be prevented if US adults ages 40 and older increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by a small amount. Even 10 minutes more a day would make a difference.

Taking more steps a day also helps lower the risk of premature death from all causes. For adults younger than 60, the risk of premature death leveled off at about 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day. For adults 60 and older, the risk of premature death leveled off at about 6,000 to 8,000 steps per day.

Regular physical activity can help people manage existing chronic conditions and disabilities. For example, regular physical activity can:

  • Reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis.
  • Help control blood sugar levels and lower risk of heart disease and nerve damage for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Health Benefits Associated with Physical Activity for People with Chronic Conditions and Disabilities [PDF-14.4MB]
  • Key Recommendations for Adults with Chronic Conditions and Disabilities [PDF-14.4MB]

Active People, Healthy Nation SM is a CDC initiative to help people be more physically active.

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Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity

On this page:

Why is physical activity important?

Emotional benefits of exercise.

Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, studies show that “taking it easy” is risky. Often, inactivity is more to blame than age when older people lose the ability to do things on their own. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

Including all 4 types of exercise can benefit a wide range of areas of your life. Staying active can help you:

Four Types of Exercise infographic. Click to open infographic webpage.

  • Keep and improve your strength so you can stay independent
  • Have more energy to do the things you want to do and reduce fatigue
  • Improve your balance and lower risk of falls and injuries from falls
  • Manage and prevent some diseases like arthritis, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and 8 types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer
  • Sleep better at home
  • Reduce levels of stress and anxiety
  • Reach or maintain a healthy weight and reduce risk of excessive weight gain
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Possibly improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function , such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks or plan an activity
  • Perk up your mood and reduce feelings of depression

Infographic, Tips To boost Your Health As You Age. Click link for full infographic

Research has shown that exercise is not only good for your physical health, it also supports emotional and mental health. You can exercise with a friend and get the added benefit of emotional support. So, next time you’re feeling down, anxious, or stressed, try to get up and start moving!

Physical activity can help:

  • Reduce feelings of depression and stress, while improving your mood and overall emotional well-being
  • Increase your energy level
  • Improve sleep
  • Empower you to feel more in control

In addition, exercise and physical activity may possibly improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function , such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity infographic. Click to open webpage

Here are some exercise ideas to help you lift your mood:

  • Walking, bicycling, or dancing. Endurance activities increase your breathing, get your heart pumping, and boost chemicals in your body that may improve mood.
  • Yoga. This mind and body practice typically combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation.
  • Tai Chi. This "moving meditation" involves shifting the body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply.
  • Activities you enjoy. Whether it’s gardening, playing tennis, kicking around a soccer ball with your grandchildren, or something else, choose an activity you want to do, not one you have to do.

You may also be interested in

  • Finding tips to help stay motivated to exercise
  • Exploring safety tips for exercising outdoors
  • Reading about the four types of exercise

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For more information.

YMCA 800-872-9622 [email protected] www.ymca.net

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 800-232-4636 888-232-6348 (TTY) [email protected] www.cdc.gov

MedlinePlus National Library of Medicine       www.medlineplus.gov

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

Content reviewed: April 03, 2020


An official website of the National Institutes of Health

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Physical Exercise and Mental Health, Essay Example

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The value of physical exercise to the body cannot be overemphasized. Even though there are many perspectives pertaining to its appropriateness, physical exercise has numerous benefits, which cannot be outweighed by any other mechanism applied to the human body. This research embodies  ananalysis of the usefulness of physical exercise in maintaining mental health. First a reflection of characteristics that constitute physical exercise would be undertaken and second, perspectives of mental health will be outlined in relation to the topic. Finally,ananalysis relating the benefits of physical exercise  to mental will be explored.

Physical exercise

Physical exercise is a concept used to describe any activity the body is allowed to access that helps in maintaining or enhancing a person’s health and well-being.  This includes strategies that provide vitality to organs in the body such the heart, lungs, muscular/ skeletal systems, kidneys, brain. Benefits are immense because this engagement allows athletesto master their skills through maintaining body weight, expiration and inspiration activities along with activating glands to produce perspiration. Perspiring is a significant excretory mechanism, which is often inadequately addressed in modern sciences due to attempts of inhibiting the odor (Hardman &Stensel, 2009).                .

The use of antiperspirants causes glands to limit perspiration production and sabotages the excretory process. Subsequently, many physical disturbances occur due to toxin built up Analysts have also confirmed that engaging in regular physical exercise greatly reduces incidences of heart disease, stroke, postpones aging, heart attacks, stimulating the immune system to function efficiently and reducing incidences of type 2 diabetes (Hardman &Stensel, 2009).

Mental health

Mental health relates to the extent psychological well-being is sustained. Essentially, from a non-scientific perspective mental health is the absencepersonality  disordersand brain dysfunction. When viewedfrom a holistic paradigm mental health includes a person’s ability to enjoy and appreciate the values of life. According to psychologists who investigate the human personality mental health could embrace attainment of lower level needs and reaching the highest self-actualization stage. Therefore, in reality mental health could also encompass one’s ability to appropriately cope with adversity and still remain balanced psychologically((Demyttenaere, Bruffaerts& Posada-Villa, 2004).

Further, World health Organization advances that a subjective wellbeing exists whereby a person’s equilibrium is related to the extent of autonomy is articulated; competence  expressed; intergenerational independence is executed and intellectual self-actualization is achieved. According to WHO, it also encompasses the person’s integration potential. This means a cohesiveability appropriatelyaligning one’s self to people, social and physical environments as well as staying connected. Ultimately, it must be clarified that there are diverse theories infirming mental health characteristics (Demyttenaere et.al, 2004).

The American psychological association has definite guidelines for interpreting and diagnosing mental disorders. However, scientists have admitted that it is difficult determining the extent to which mental health classifications are applicable across cultures and social environments. The primary concern of this discussion is analyzing the extent physical exercise promotes mental health or features of personality development consistent with adequate health mental. My theory relates to the perspective that it does promote mental health(Demyttenaere et.al, 2004).

If physical exercise is expected to enhance bodily functions; prevent disease and promote mental and social well-being, then, its role in mental health must be significant. Analysts have confirmed that it has immense impacts on depression; promotes self-esteem; augments a person’s body appeal, which stimulates physical attraction. Health care providers prescribe physical exercise in many of their health promotion strategies. It is often recognized as the miracle/wonder drug for a number of emotional issues. Therefore, if mental health relates to a person’s self-esteem, emotional equilibrium, physical exercise is then a major source of mental health maintenance.

For example, factors responsible for depression include low self-esteem, obesity, anxiety and stress. Research shows where endorphins are produced when people engage in physical activities. Further, studies reveal that this secretion initiates a response known as the runner high, linked to a euphoria created when physical activity is produced. Endorphin is an effective natural pain reliever and serves as an antidepressant when people experience various degree of the condition (Hardman Stensel, 2009).

Theories relating the release of other substances indicate thatanandamide is also a runner high initiator. Supporting researchconfirmedthatserotonin along with endorphin andanandamide levels are elevated in the blood stream. They remain that way days after physical exercise was experienced. Importantly, these endocrine secretions are responsible for mood stabilization weight management, which often affects mental health and ultimately improves self-esteem(Power, 2010).

It has been proven also that physical exercise alone combined with proper nutrition can maintain excellent mental health. There are more studies confirming successful application of physical exercise in depression prevention therapies. Analysts advanced that physical exercise is most effective on mental health when conducted as a group in gym settings or group walking therapies (Power, 2010).

The foregoing research highlighted perspectives relating the impact of physical exercise on mental health reflecting on differing viewpoints. Viewpoints on this subject differ based on classifications of mental health and physical exercise, which were clarified before an analysis was offered. Ultimately, in my point of view once a line of demarcation is drawn between mental health and mental disorder there is no need to differ regardingwhether physical exercise contributes to mental health. Physical exercise is necessary for the perpetuation of life itself.

Demyttenaere, K.Bruffaerts, R., & Posada-Villa, J. (2004). WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium. Prevalence, severity, and unmet need for treatment of mental disorders in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey. Journal of the American Medical Association . 291 (21); 2581–2590

Hardman, A., &Stensel, D. (2009). Physical Activity and Health: The Evidence Explained. London: Routledge

Power, A. (2010). Transforming the Nation’s Health: Next Steps in Mental Health Promotion. American Journal of Public Health 100 (12); 2343–6.

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Essay on Physical Fitness

Students are often asked to write an essay on Physical Fitness in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Physical Fitness

What is physical fitness.

Physical fitness is about having a body that can do many activities without getting too tired. It means your heart, muscles, and bones are strong. When you are fit, you can run, jump, and play without feeling out of breath quickly.

Why is Fitness Important?

Being fit is good for your health. It helps you stay away from sickness. Kids who are fit can focus better in school. It also makes you feel happy and gives you more energy to enjoy life.

How to Get Fit

To get fit, you should be active. Run, swim, or play sports. Also, eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains. Drink plenty of water and sleep well to help your body grow strong.

Staying Safe While Exercising

When you exercise, it’s important to be safe. Wear the right shoes and clothes. Start slow and learn the right way to move. Always listen to your body and rest if you feel pain or are very tired.

Also check:

  • Paragraph on Physical Fitness
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250 Words Essay on Physical Fitness

Physical fitness means being in good health and shape. It’s when your body can do activities like running, jumping, and playing games without getting too tired quickly. Being fit is important for everyone, no matter how old they are. It helps us stay strong and healthy.

Parts of Physical Fitness

There are two main parts of being fit: aerobic fitness and muscle strength. Aerobic fitness is about how well your heart and lungs work when you exercise. When you can run for a long time without stopping, that’s good aerobic fitness. Muscle strength is when your muscles can lift things or do work without getting tired fast.

Why Being Fit Matters

Being fit is great for your body. It helps you not get sick often and can make you feel happier. When you’re fit, you can play with your friends and not feel like you need to stop and rest all the time. It also means you might not get hurt as often.

Getting fit can be fun. You can play sports, dance, swim, or even just go for walks. Eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables helps too. It’s important to exercise a few times a week and not sit around too much.

Staying Fit

Once you’re fit, you have to keep exercising to stay that way. It’s like a game where you have to keep practicing to be good at it. Remember to stay active and eat well, and being fit will become a part of your life.

500 Words Essay on Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is about keeping your body in good shape. It means having the energy and strength to do daily activities without getting too tired. Just like a car needs fuel and a good engine to run smoothly, your body needs healthy food and exercise to work well.

Why is Being Fit Important?

Being fit is key to a happy and healthy life. When you are fit, you can play, run, and do your school work better. Your body fights off sickness easier, and you feel good about yourself. It’s not just about how you look; it’s about taking care of your body so that it can take care of you.

Types of Fitness

Fitness is not just one thing. There are different types, like strength, which lets you lift things; endurance, which is the power to keep going without stopping; flexibility, which helps you move your body in different ways; and balance, which keeps you from falling. Doing a mix of activities that help all these areas is the best way to stay fit.

Getting fit can be fun. You can play sports like soccer or basketball, swim, dance, or even just walk or bike around your neighborhood. It’s important to find activities you enjoy so that you will keep doing them. Try to move your body for at least an hour every day. This doesn’t have to be all at once; it can be spread out through the day.

Eating Right

Eating healthy foods helps your fitness too. Imagine your body is like a plant. Plants need water and good soil to grow. Your body needs healthy food and water to grow strong and stay fit. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins, and drink lots of water. Try to eat less junk food, which is like giving your plant the wrong kind of soil.

Rest and Sleep

Rest is just as important as exercise. Your body needs to sleep and take breaks to rebuild and get ready for the next day. Make sure you get enough sleep each night. This helps your body heal and gives you the energy to be active and fit.

Staying Motivated

Sometimes it’s hard to stay on track with fitness. Setting goals can help. Maybe you want to be able to run a mile without stopping or learn a new sport. Write down your goals and how you plan to reach them. Celebrate when you meet them, and set new ones.

Physical fitness is a big part of a healthy life. It keeps your body strong and gives you the energy to do all the things you love. Remember, being fit isn’t just about how you look. It’s about taking good care of your body by moving around, eating well, resting, and setting goals to keep yourself motivated. Start taking steps towards being fit today, and your body will thank you for years to come.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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Essay: Physical activity

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Sedentary behaviour is the opposite of physical activity: behaviours that only requires a low amount of energy.

• Sitting down on the couch

• Lying down on your bed

b) Incidental Physical Activity is physical activity that is not rigorous; rather it has a moderate energy requirement and is usually a small activity that is done during the day without any intent to exercise. Incidental physical activity is usually identified by a physical activity that requires an amount of energy but is something you can usually do while talking.

• Walking up a flight of stairs;

• Walking to school or work.

c) Vigorous intensity is physical activity that requires a high amount of energy to perform. Vigorous intensity is usually identified by doing physical activity that requires harder breathing, puffing or panting and is an activity you usually cannot talk while doing.

• Taking a run.

• Doing push-ups.

a) No. Jill does not meet the physical activity guidelines, which clearly state that an adolescent must have at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. To meet the guidelines, she needs to increase her time doing physical activity on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Some ways she can does this are:

• Increasing the amount of time she spends walking her dog on, or she could bring the dog to a park and play with it. Jill could also walk her dog on some of the other days she does not meet the guidelines.

• Try to take the more physically demanding route in some situations and attempt to increase her time doing incidental activity. For example taking the stars instead of the escalator/elevator, walking to places instead of driving, etc.

• Practice for netball at home, using a netball m vat home and practicing throws, passes, etc.

b) Jill does not meet the Sedentary Behaviour guidelines. In the guidelines it states that no more than 2 hours of awake time should be spent lying down and reading a book/looking at a device/doing homework. In her schedule any time not spent doing any sort of physical activity meant she is engaging in sedentary behaviour or sleeping. To improve this she can find ways to sneak in non-sedentary beha

viour or even incidental behaviour during her day to minimize the amount of time spent sitting or lying down.

• If the majority of her time being sedentary involves sitting down to do something, she could invest in a standing up desk. This means that she can still effectively do her homework/look at her device, but she won’t be adding to her time spent lying down.

• If she can’t get a standing desk, at the very least she could break up her sedentary time into blocks and inbetween every block she could do some light physical activity, like taking a walk around the house or skipping on the spot before sitting back down again.

• To cut down on time sitting down for solely entertainment purposes, instead of watching television in her free time, she could spend the time doing fun sport with her family. Even if she can’t do physical activity she could try doing on the spot exercises while watching TV like squats or star jumps.

4) Physical activity does indeed help all aspects of your health.

• The most obvious benefit of doing physical activity is that it helps maintain your health. It keeps your weight in check and keeps your muscles from deteriorating. This is considered a physical benefit and is the primary reason for why most people try to get involved in more physical activity.

• Physical activity can help you induce discipline on yourself by exercising regularly. For example, you can schedule yourself to go to the gym every Wednesday afternoon. This benefit is considered a spiritual benefit.

• It can form bonds between you and other people. The most obvious example of this is team sport. Because team sport requires you to work in tandem with your fellow teammates, it forms some close bonds between you and your teammates. This is considered a social benefit as it creates positive bonds between you and other people.

• It also helps you with your self-image/self-esteem, and having a positive self-image improves the way you view yourself and everything you do. Because physical activity can help lessen your weight, this is considered a mix of a cognitive and emotional benefit, as it keeps you mentally happy and therefore keeps your emotions in check.

• Physical activity can simply be a fun activity that people can enjoy along with the other health benefits. Competitive sport can be a thrilling experience for many people, and this is why this reason is considered an emotional benefit.

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Physical activity and cognitive health Essay

Physical activity and cognitive health are two inseparable concepts. The interdependence is so great that any change in either one will result in immediate effect on the other.

Since ancient times it has been known that physical activity alleviates the symptoms of sadness, grief and more even depression. In a book titled “Fit and Well”, the authors present a close connection between fitness and well being of the mind and body. Not only is physical activity a great way to reduce stress and cure depression, it changes the lifestyle and allows for a better quality of life.

Overall, there are six dimensions that define a healthy lifestyle, they are: physical wellness, emotional, intellectual, interpersonal, spiritual and environmental (Fahey, Insel and Ruth 3). Physicians recommend physical activity to relieve the stress and depressed mood. On a strictly psychological level a person who exercises feels better about themselves morally.

They feel that they have accomplished something and the euphoric emotion overpowers the state of negativity. The bodily chemical functions and cognitive mechanisms are closely intertwined. It has been shown that physical activity greatly influences blood pressure, platelet function, heart rate, variability and the autonomic nervous system in general (Contrada 17).

Fitness helps a person to feel better by having an organization and structure of an activity. It does not necessarily have to be heavy lifting or other types of strength training. A game of volleyball, badminton or even swimming, will create changes in the brain that will release chemicals, which beneficially deal with the depressed state.

When a person begins any sort of physical activity, the body arranges itself and prepares for a different state. The neural controls give a signal to the mechanisms in the body that affect the blood flow, skeletal muscles, tissues and organs (Otto 5). The activity of the body makes the brain release endorphins into the blood stream and as such, the whole mechanism of the body is affected. This happens unconsciously.

As briefly mentioned previously, cognitively, the physical activity creates a structure in a person’s life. The individual is looking forward to the exercise. There is a change in plans, adjustment of the schedule, which forces a person to think about the future activity. The state after the exercise is another level of reward and relief. Also, wellness in the environment and social interaction are closely connected, as a person must be one with the world.

Recycling and keeping the living conditions healthy, leads to a more satisfying existence. Proper and respectful communication with other creates a circle of friends who are also part of a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition is another important factor, as the body greatly depends on the food people intake. Vitamins and minerals contained in fruits and vegetables provide energy and a strong metabolism to fight off illnesses and diseases (Fahey, Insel and Ruth 5).

After acquiring information about fitness and wellness, it will help adjust a person’s lifestyle. Light exercise in the morning, daily walks or bike rides will be enough to help the organism. Proper diet and regular check-ups will ensure that both mind and body are happy. Overall, it is clear that exercise is a very effective way to lead a healthy lifestyle. Environment, personal emotions, nutrition and interaction with others, all play a role in how strong and positive a person is.

Works Cited

Contrada, Richard. The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology, and health. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2010. Print.

Fahey, Thomas, Paul Insel and Walton Ruth. Fit & Well , Whitby, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2010. Print.

Otto, Michael. Exercise for mood and anxiety: Proven strategies for overcoming depression. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

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Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment; Food and Nutrition Board; Institute of Medicine; Kohl HW III, Cook HD, editors. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2013 Oct 30.

Cover of Educating the Student Body

Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School.

  • Hardcopy Version at National Academies Press

4 Physical Activity, Fitness, and Physical Education: Effects on Academic Performance

Key messages.

  • Evidence suggests that increasing physical activity and physical fitness may improve academic performance and that time in the school day dedicated to recess, physical education class, and physical activity in the classroom may also facilitate academic performance.
  • Available evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the academic topics that are most influenced by physical activity. These topics depend on efficient and effective executive function, which has been linked to physical activity and physical fitness.
  • Executive function and brain health underlie academic performance. Basic cognitive functions related to attention and memory facilitate learning, and these functions are enhanced by physical activity and higher aerobic fitness.
  • Single sessions of and long-term participation in physical activity improve cognitive performance and brain health. Children who participate in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity benefit the most.
  • Given the importance of time on task to learning, students should be provided with frequent physical activity breaks that are developmentally appropriate.
  • Although presently understudied, physically active lessons offered in the classroom may increase time on task and attention to task in the classroom setting.

Although academic performance stems from a complex interaction between intellect and contextual variables, health is a vital moderating factor in a child's ability to learn. The idea that healthy children learn better is empirically supported and well accepted ( Basch, 2010 ), and multiple studies have confirmed that health benefits are associated with physical activity, including cardiovascular and muscular fitness, bone health, psychosocial outcomes, and cognitive and brain health ( Strong et al., 2005 ; see Chapter 3 ). The relationship of physical activity and physical fitness to cognitive and brain health and to academic performance is the subject of this chapter.

Given that the brain is responsible for both mental processes and physical actions of the human body, brain health is important across the life span. In adults, brain health, representing absence of disease and optimal structure and function, is measured in terms of quality of life and effective functioning in activities of daily living. In children, brain health can be measured in terms of successful development of attention, on-task behavior, memory, and academic performance in an educational setting. This chapter reviews the findings of recent research regarding the contribution of engagement in physical activity and the attainment of a health-enhancing level of physical fitness to cognitive and brain health in children. Correlational research examining the relationship among academic performance, physical fitness, and physical activity also is described. Because research in older adults has served as a model for understanding the effects of physical activity and fitness on the developing brain during childhood, the adult research is briefly discussed. The short- and long-term cognitive benefits of both a single session of and regular participation in physical activity are summarized.

Before outlining the health benefits of physical activity and fitness, it is important to note that many factors influence academic performance. Among these are socioeconomic status ( Sirin, 2005 ), parental involvement ( Fan and Chen, 2001 ), and a host of other demographic factors. A valuable predictor of student academic performance is a parent having clear expectations for the child's academic success. Attendance is another factor confirmed as having a significant impact on academic performance ( Stanca, 2006 ; Baxter et al., 2011 ). Because children must be present to learn the desired content, attendance should be measured in considering factors related to academic performance.


State-mandated academic achievement testing has had the unintended consequence of reducing opportunities for children to be physically active during the school day and beyond. In addition to a general shifting of time in school away from physical education to allow for more time on academic subjects, some children are withheld from physical education classes or recess to participate in remedial or enriched learning experiences designed to increase academic performance ( Pellegrini and Bohn, 2005 ; see Chapter 5 ). Yet little evidence supports the notion that more time allocated to subject matter will translate into better test scores. Indeed, 11 of 14 correlational studies of physical activity during the school day demonstrate a positive relationship to academic performance ( Rasberry et al., 2011 ). Overall, a rapidly growing body of work suggests that time spent engaged in physical activity is related not only to a healthier body but also to a healthier mind ( Hillman et al., 2008 ).

Children respond faster and with greater accuracy to a variety of cognitive tasks after participating in a session of physical activity ( Tomporowski, 2003 ; Budde et al., 2008 ; Hillman et al., 2009 ; Pesce et al., 2009 ; Ellemberg and St-Louis-Deschênes, 2010 ). A single bout of moderate-intensity physical activity has been found to increase neural and behavioral concomitants associated with the allocation of attention to a specific cognitive task ( Hillman et al., 2009 ; Pontifex et al., 2012 ). And when children who participated in 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity were compared with children who watched television for the same amount of time, the former children cognitively outperformed the latter ( Ellemberg and St-Louis-Desêhenes, 2010 ). Visual task switching data among 69 overweight and inactive children did not show differences between cognitive performance after treadmill walking and sitting ( Tomporowski et al., 2008b ).

When physical activity is used as a break from academic learning time, postengagement effects include better attention ( Grieco et al., 2009 ; Bartholomew and Jowers, 2011 ), increased on-task behaviors ( Mahar et al., 2006 ), and improved academic performance ( Donnelly and Lambourne, 2011 ). Comparisons between 1st-grade students housed in a classroom with stand-sit desks where the child could stand at his/her discretion and in classrooms containing traditional furniture showed that the former children were highly likely to stand, thus expending significantly more energy than those who were seated ( Benden et al., 2011 ). More important, teachers can offer physical activity breaks as part of a supplemental curriculum or simply as a way to reset student attention during a lesson ( Kibbe et al., 2011 ; see Chapter 6 ) and when provided with minimal training can efficaciously produce vigorous or moderate energy expenditure in students ( Stewart et al., 2004 ). Further, after-school physical activity programs have demonstrated the ability to improve cardiovascular endurance, and this increase in aerobic fitness has been shown to mediate improvements in academic performance ( Fredericks et al., 2006 ), as well as the allocation of neural resources underlying performance on a working memory task ( Kamijo et al., 2011 ).

Over the past three decades, several reviews and meta-analyses have described the relationship among physical fitness, physical activity, and cognition (broadly defined as all mental processes). The majority of these reviews have focused on the relationship between academic performance and physical fitness—a physiological trait commonly defined in terms of cardiorespiratory capacity (e.g., maximal oxygen consumption; see Chapter 3 ). More recently, reviews have attempted to describe the effects of an acute or single bout of physical activity, as a behavior, on academic performance. These reviews have focused on brain health in older adults ( Colcombe and Kramer, 2003 ), as well as the effects of acute physical activity on cognition in adults ( Tomporowski, 2003 ). Some have considered age as part of the analysis ( Etnier et al., 1997 , 2006 ). Reviews focusing on research conducted in children ( Sibley and Etnier, 2003 ) have examined the relationship among physical activity, participation in sports, and academic performance ( Trudeau and Shephard, 2008 , 2010 ; Singh et al., 2012 ); physical activity and mental and cognitive health ( Biddle and Asare, 2011 ); and physical activity, nutrition, and academic performance ( Burkhalter and Hillman, 2011 ). The findings of most of these reviews align with the conclusions presented in a meta-analytic review conducted by Fedewa and Ahn (2011) . The studies reviewed by Fedewa and Ahn include experimental/quasi-experimental as well as cross-sectional and correlational designs, with the experimental designs yielding the highest effect sizes. The strongest relationships were found between aerobic fitness and achievement in mathematics, followed by IQ and reading performance. The range of cognitive performance measures, participant characteristics, and types of research design all mediated the relationship among physical activity, fitness, and academic performance. With regard to physical activity interventions, which were carried out both within and beyond the school day, those involving small groups of peers (around 10 youth of a similar age) were associated with the greatest gains in academic performance.

The number of peer-reviewed publications on this topic is growing exponentially. Further evidence of the growth of this line of inquiry is its increased global presence. Positive relationships among physical activity, physical fitness, and academic performance have been found among students from the Netherlands ( Singh et al., 2012 ) and Taiwan ( Chih and Chen, 2011 ). Broadly speaking, however, many of these studies show small to moderate effects and suffer from poor research designs ( Biddle and Asare, 2011 ; Singh et al., 2012 ).

Basch (2010) conducted a comprehensive review of how children's health and health disparities influence academic performance and learning. The author's report draws on empirical evidence suggesting that education reform will be ineffective unless children's health is made a priority. Basch concludes that schools may be the only place where health inequities can be addressed and that, if children's basic health needs are not met, they will struggle to learn regardless of the effectiveness of the instructional materials used. More recently, Efrat (2011) conducted a review of physical activity, fitness, and academic performance to examine the achievement gap. He discovered that only seven studies had included socioeconomic status as a variable, despite its known relationship to education ( Sirin, 2005 ).

Physical Fitness as a Learning Outcome of Physical Education and Its Relation to Academic Performance

Achieving and maintaining a healthy level of aerobic fitness, as defined using criterion-referenced standards from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; Welk et al., 2011 ), is a desired learning outcome of physical education programming. Regular participation in physical activity also is a national learning standard for physical education, a standard intended to facilitate the establishment of habitual and meaningful engagement in physical activity ( NASPE, 2004 ). Yet although physical fitness and participation in physical activity are established as learning outcomes in all 50 states, there is little evidence to suggest that children actually achieve and maintain these standards (see Chapter 2 ).

Statewide and national datasets containing data on youth physical fitness and academic performance have increased access to student-level data on this subject ( Grissom, 2005 ; Cottrell et al., 2007 ; Carlson et al., 2008 ; Chomitz et al., 2008 ; Wittberg et al., 2010 ; Van Dusen et al., 2011 ). Early research in South Australia focused on quantifying the benefits of physical activity and physical education during the school day; the benefits noted included increased physical fitness, decreased body fat, and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease ( Dwyer et al., 1979 , 1983 ). Even today, Dwyer and colleagues are among the few scholars who regularly include in their research measures of physical activity intensity in the school environment, which is believed to be a key reason why they are able to report differentiated effects of different intensities. A longitudinal study in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada, tracked how the academic performance of children from grades 1 through 6 was related to student health, motor skills, and time spent in physical education. The researchers concluded that additional time dedicated to physical education did not inhibit academic performance ( Shephard et al., 1984 ; Shephard, 1986 ; Trudeau and Shephard, 2008 ).

Longitudinal follow-up investigating the long-term benefits of enhanced physical education experiences is encouraging but largely inconclusive. In a study examining the effects of daily physical education during elementary school on physical activity during adulthood, 720 men and women completed the Québec Health Survey ( Trudeau et al., 1999 ). Findings suggest that physical education was associated with physical activity in later life for females but not males ( Trudeau et al., 1999 ); most of the associations were significant but weak ( Trudeau et al., 2004 ). Adult body mass index (BMI) at age 34 was related to childhood BMI at ages 10-12 in females but not males ( Trudeau et al., 2001 ). Longitudinal studies such as those conducted in Sweden and Finland also suggest that physical education experiences may be related to adult engagement in physical activity ( Glenmark, 1994 ; Telama et al., 1997 ). From an academic performance perspective, longitudinal data on men who enlisted for military service imply that cardiovascular fitness at age 18 predicted cognitive performance in later life (Aberg et al., 2009), thereby supporting the idea of offering physical education and physical activity opportunities well into emerging adulthood through secondary and postsecondary education.

Castelli and colleagues (2007) investigated younger children (in 3rd and 5th grades) and the differential contributions of the various subcomponents of the Fitnessgram ® . Specifically, they examined the individual contributions of aerobic capacity, muscle strength, muscle flexibility, and body composition to performance in mathematics and reading on the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test among a sample of 259 children. Their findings corroborate those of the California Department of Education ( Grissom, 2005 ), indicating a general relationship between fitness and achievement test performance. When the individual components of the Fitnessgram were decomposed, the researchers determined that only aerobic capacity was related to test performance. Muscle strength and flexibility showed no relationship, while an inverse association of BMI with test performance was observed, such that higher BMI was associated with lower test performance. Although Baxter and colleagues (2011) confirmed the importance of attending school in relation to academic performance through the use of 4th-grade student recall, correlations with BMI were not significant.

State-mandated implementation of the coordinated school health model requires all schools in Texas to conduct annual fitness testing using the Fitnessgram among students in grades 3-12. In a special issue of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (2010), multiple articles describe the current state of physical fitness among children in Texas; confirm the associations among school performance levels, academic achievement, and physical fitness ( Welk et al., 2010 ; Zhu et al., 2010 ); and demonstrate the ability of qualified physical education teachers to administer physical fitness tests ( Zhu et al., 2010 ). Also using data from Texas schools, Van Dusen and colleagues (2011) found that cardiovascular fitness had the strongest association with academic performance, particularly in mathematics over reading. Unlike previous research, which demonstrated a steady decline in fitness by developmental stage ( Duncan et al., 2007 ), this study found that cardiovascular fitness did decrease but not significantly ( Van Dusen et al., 2011 ). Aerobic fitness, then, may be important to academic performance, as there may be a dose-response relationship ( Van Dusen et al., 2011 ).

Using a large sample of students in grades 4-8, Chomitz and colleagues (2008) found that the likelihood of passing both mathematics and English achievement tests increased with the number of fitness tests passed during physical education class, and the odds of passing the mathematics achievement tests were inversely related to higher body weight. Similar to the findings of Castelli and colleagues (2007) , socioeconomic status and demographic factors explained little of the relationship between aerobic fitness and academic performance; however, socioeconomic status may be an explanatory variable for students of low fitness ( London and Castrechini, 2011 ).

In sum, numerous cross-sectional and correlational studies demonstrate small-to-moderate positive or null associations between physical fitness ( Grissom, 2005 ; Cottrell et al., 2007 ; Edwards et al., 2009; Eveland-Sayers et al., 2009 ; Cooper et al., 2010 ; Welk et al., 2010 ; Wittberg et al., 2010 ; Zhu et al., 2010 ; Van Dusen et al., 2011 ), particularly aerobic fitness, and academic performance ( Castelli et al, 2007 ; Chomitz et al., 2008 ; Roberts et al., 2010 ; Welk et al., 2010 ; Chih and Chen, 2011 ; London and Castrechini, 2011 ; Van Dusen et al., 2011 ). Moreover, the findings may support a dose-response association, suggesting that the more components of physical fitness (e.g., cardiovascular endurance, strength, muscle endurance) considered acceptable for the specific age and gender that are present, the greater the likelihood of successful academic performance. From a public health and policy standpoint, the conclusions these findings support are limited by few causal inferences, a lack of data confirmation, and inadequate reliability because the data were often collected by nonresearchers or through self-report methods. It may also be noted that this research includes no known longitudinal studies and few randomized controlled trials (examples are included later in this chapter in the discussion of the developing brain).

Physical Activity, Physical Education, and Academic Performance

In contrast with the correlational data presented above for physical fitness, more information is needed on the direct effects of participation in physical activity programming and physical education classes on academic performance.

In a meta-analysis, Sibley and Etnier (2003) found a positive relationship between physical activity and cognition in school-age youth (aged 4-18), suggesting that physical activity, as well as physical fitness, may be related to cognitive outcomes during development. Participation in physical activity was related to cognitive performance in eight measurement categories (perceptual skills, IQ, achievement, verbal tests, mathematics tests, memory, developmental level/academic readiness, and “other”), with results indicating a beneficial relationship of physical activity to all cognitive outcomes except memory ( Sibley and Etnier, 2003 ). Since that meta-analysis, however, several papers have reported robust relationships between aerobic fitness and different aspects of memory in children (e.g., Chaddock et al., 2010a , 2011 ; Kamijo et al., 2011 ; Monti et al., 2012 ). Regardless, the comprehensive review of Sibley and Etnier (2003) was important because it helped bring attention to an emerging literature suggesting that physical activity may benefit cognitive development even as it also demonstrated the need for further study to better understand the multifaceted relationship between physical activity and cognitive and brain health.

The regular engagement in physical activity achieved during physical education programming can also be related to academic performance, especially when the class is taught by a physical education teacher. The Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) study examined the effects of a 2-year health-related physical education program on academic performance in children ( Sallis et al., 1999 ). In an experimental design, seven elementary schools were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) a specialist condition in which certified physical education teachers delivered the SPARK curriculum, (2) a trained-teacher condition in which classroom teachers implemented the curriculum, and (3) a control condition in which classroom teachers implemented the local physical education curriculum. No significant differences by condition were found for mathematics testing; however, reading scores were significantly higher in the specialist condition relative to the control condition ( Sallis et al., 1999 ), while language scores were significantly lower in the specialist condition than in the other two conditions. The authors conclude that spending time in physical education with a specialist did not have a negative effect on academic performance. Shortcomings of this research include the amount of data loss from pre- to posttest, the use of results of 2nd-grade testing that exceeded the national average in performance as baseline data, and the use of norm-referenced rather than criterion-based testing.

In seminal research conducted by Gabbard and Barton (1979) , six different conditions of physical activity (no activity; 20, 30, 40, and 50 minutes; and posttest no activity) were completed by 106 2nd graders during physical education. Each physical activity session was followed by 5 minutes of rest and the completion of 36 math problems. The authors found a potential threshold effect whereby only the 50-minute condition improved mathematical performance, with no differences by gender.

A longitudinal study of the kindergarten class of 1998–1999, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, investigated the association between enrollment in physical education and academic achievement ( Carlson et al., 2008 ). Higher amounts of physical education were correlated with better academic performance in mathematics among females, but this finding did not hold true for males.

Ahamed and colleagues (2007) found in a cluster randomized trial that, after 16 months of a classroom-based physical activity intervention, there was no significant difference between the treatment and control groups in performance on the standardized Cognitive Abilities Test, Third Edition (CAT-3). Others have found, however, that coordinative exercise ( Budde et al., 2008 ) or bouts of vigorous physical activity during free time ( Coe et al., 2006 ) contribute to higher levels of academic performance. Specifically, Coe and colleagues examined the association of enrollment in physical education and self-reported vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity outside school with performance in core academic courses and on the Terra Nova Standardized Achievement Test among more than 200 6th-grade students. Their findings indicate that academic performance was unaffected by enrollment in physical education classes, which were found to average only 19 minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity. When time spent engaged in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity outside of school was considered, however, a significant positive relation to academic performance emerged, with more time engaged in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity being related to better grades but not test scores ( Coe et al., 2006 ).

Studies of participation in sports and academic achievement have found positive associations ( Mechanic and Hansell, 1987 ; Dexter, 1999 ; Crosnoe, 2002 ; Eitle and Eitle, 2002 ; Stephens and Schaben, 2002 ; Eitle, 2005 ; Miller et al., 2005 ; Fox et al., 2010 ; Ruiz et al., 2010 ); higher grade point averages (GPAs) in season than out of season ( Silliker and Quirk, 1997 ); a negative association between cheerleading and science performance ( Hanson and Kraus, 1998 ); and weak and negative associations between the amount of time spent participating in sports and performance in English-language class among 13-, 14-, and 16-year-old students ( Daley and Ryan, 2000 ). Other studies, however, have found no association between participation in sports and academic performance ( Fisher et al., 1996 ). The findings of these studies need to be interpreted with caution as many of their designs failed to account for the level of participation by individuals in the sport (e.g., amount of playing time, type and intensity of physical activity engagement by sport). Further, it is unclear whether policies required students to have higher GPAs to be eligible for participation. Offering sports opportunities is well justified regardless of the cognitive benefits, however, given that adolescents may be less likely to engage in risky behaviors when involved in sports or other extracurricular activities ( Page et al., 1998 ; Elder et al., 2000 ; Taliaferro et al., 2010 ), that participation in sports increases physical fitness, and that affiliation with sports enhances school connectedness.

Although a consensus on the relationship of physical activity to academic achievement has not been reached, the vast majority of available evidence suggests the relationship is either positive or neutral. The meta-analytic review by Fedewa and Ahn (2011) suggests that interventions entailing aerobic physical activity have the greatest impact on academic performance; however, all types of physical activity, except those involving flexibility alone, contribute to enhanced academic performance, as do interventions that use small groups (about 10 students) rather than individuals or large groups. Regardless of the strength of the findings, the literature indicates that time spent engaged in physical activity is beneficial to children because it has not been found to detract from academic performance, and in fact can improve overall health and function ( Sallis et al., 1999 ; Hillman et al., 2008 ; Tomporowski et al., 2008a ; Trudeau and Shephard, 2008 ; Rasberry et al., 2011 ).

Single Bouts of Physical Activity

Beyond formal physical education, evidence suggests that multi-component approaches are a viable means of providing physical activity opportunities for children across the school curriculum (see also Chapter 6 ). Although health-related fitness lessons taught by certified physical education teachers result in greater student fitness gains relative to such lessons taught by other teachers ( Sallis et al., 1999 ), non-physical education teachers are capable of providing opportunities to be physically active within the classroom ( Kibbe et al., 2011 ). Single sessions or bouts of physical activity have independent merit, offering immediate benefits that can enhance the learning experience. Studies have found that single bouts of physical activity result in improved attention ( Hillman et al., 2003 , 2009 ; Pontifex et al., 2012 ), better working memory ( Pontifex et al., 2009 ), and increased academic learning time and reduced off-task behaviors ( Mahar et al., 2006 ; Bartholomew and Jowers, 2011 ). Yet single bouts of physical activity have differential effects, as very vigorous exercise has been associated with cognitive fatigue and even cognitive decline in adults ( Tomporowski, 2003 ). As seen in Figure 4-1 , high levels of effort, arousal, or activation can influence perception, decision making, response preparation, and actual response. For discussion of the underlying constructs and differential effects of single bouts of physical activity on cognitive performance, see Tomporowski (2003) .

Information processing: Diagram of a simplified version of Sanders's (1983) cognitive-energetic model of human information processing (adapted from Jones and Hardy, 1989). SOURCE: Tomporowski, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

For children, classrooms are busy places where they must distinguish relevant information from distractions that emerge from many different sources occurring simultaneously. A student must listen to the teacher, adhere to classroom procedures, focus on a specific task, hold and retain information, and make connections between novel information and previous experiences. Hillman and colleagues (2009) demonstrated that a single bout of moderate-intensity walking (60 percent of maximum heart rate) resulted in significant improvements in performance on a task requiring attentional inhibition (e.g., the ability to focus on a single task). These findings were accompanied by changes in neuroelectric measures underlying the allocation of attention (see Figure 4-2 ) and significant improvements on the reading subtest of the Wide Range Achievement Test. No such effects were observed following a similar duration of quiet rest. These findings were later replicated and extended to demonstrate benefits for both mathematics and reading performance in healthy children and those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( Pontifex et al., 2013 ). Further replications of these findings demonstrated that a single bout of moderate-intensity exercise using a treadmill improved performance on a task of attention and inhibition, but similar benefits were not derived from moderate-intensity exercise that involved exergaming ( O'Leary et al., 2011 ). It was also found that such benefits were derived following cessation of, but not during, the bout of exercise ( Drollette et al., 2012 ). The applications of such empirical findings within the school setting remain unclear.

Effects of a single session of exercise in preadolescent children. SOURCE: Hillman et al., 2009. Reprinted with permission.

A randomized controlled trial entitled Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC) used cluster randomization among 24 schools to examine the effects of physically active classroom lessons on BMI and academic achievement ( Donnelly et al., 2009 ). The academically oriented physical activities were intended to be of vigorous or moderate intensity (3–6 metabolic equivalents [METs]) and to last approximately 10 minutes and were specifically designed to supplement content in mathematics, language arts, geography, history, spelling, science, and health. The study followed 665 boys and 677 girls for 3 years as they rose from 2nd or 3rd to 4th or 5th grades. Changes in academic achievement, fitness, and blood screening were considered secondary outcomes. During a 3-year period, students who engaged in physically active lessons, on average, improved their academic achievement by 6 percent, while the control groups exhibited a 1 percent decrease. In students who experienced at least 75 minutes of PAAC lessons per week, BMI remained stable (see Figure 4-3 ).

Change in academic scores from baseline after physically active classroom lessons in elementary schools in northeast Kansas (2003–2006). NOTE: All differences between the Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC) group ( N = 117) and control (more...)

It is important to note that cognitive tasks completed before, during, and after physical activity show varying effects, but the effects were always positive compared with sedentary behavior. In a study carried out by Drollette and colleagues (2012) , 36 preadolescent children completed two cognitive tasks—a flanker task to assess attention and inhibition and a spatial nback task to assess working memory—before, during, and after seated rest and treadmill walking conditions. The children sat or walked on different days for an average of 19 minutes. The results suggest that the physical activity enhanced cognitive performance for the attention task but not for the task requiring working memory. Accordingly, although more research is needed, the authors suggest that the acute effects of exercise may be selective to certain cognitive processes (i.e., attentional inhibition) while unrelated to others (e.g., working memory). Indeed, data collected using a task-switching paradigm (i.e., a task designed to assess multitasking and requiring the scheduling of attention to multiple aspects of the environment) among 69 overweight and inactive children did not show differences in cognitive performance following acute bouts of treadmill walking or sitting ( Tomporowski et al., 2008b ). Thus, findings to date indicate a robust relationship of acute exercise to transient improvements in attention but appear inconsistent for other aspects of cognition.

Academic Learning Time and On- and Off-Task Behaviors

Excessive time on task, inattention to task, off-task behavior, and delinquency are important considerations in the learning environment given the importance of academic learning time to academic performance. These behaviors are observable and of concern to teachers as they detract from the learning environment. Systematic observation by trained observers may yield important insight regarding the effects of short physical activity breaks on these behaviors. Indeed, systematic observations of student behavior have been used as an alternative means of measuring academic performance ( Mahar et al., 2006 ; Grieco et al., 2009 ).

After the development of classroom-based physical activities, called Energizers, teachers were trained in how to implement such activities in their lessons at least twice per week ( Mahar et al., 2006 ). Measurements of baseline physical activity and on-task behaviors were collected in two 3rd-grade and two 4th-grade classes, using pedometers and direct observation. The intervention included 243 students, while 108 served as controls by not engaging in the activities. A subgroup of 62 3rd and 4th graders was observed for on-task behavior in the classroom following the physical activity. Children who participated in Energizers took more steps during the school day than those who did not; they also increased their on-task behaviors by more than 20 percent over baseline measures.

A systematic review of a similar in-class, academically oriented, physical activity plan—Take 10!—was conducted to identify the effects of its implementation after it had been in use for 10 years ( Kibbe et al., 2011 ). The findings suggest that children who experienced Take 10! in the classroom engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity (6.16 to 6.42 METs) and had lower BMIs than those who did not. Further, children in the Take 10! classrooms had better fluid intelligence ( Reed et al., 2010 ) and higher academic achievement scores ( Donnelly et al., 2009 ).

Some have expressed concern that introducing physical activity into the classroom setting may be distracting to students. Yet in one study it was sedentary students who demonstrated a decrease in time on task, while active students returned to the same level of on-task behavior after an active learning task ( Grieco et al., 2009 ). Among the 97 3rd-grade students in this study, a small but nonsignificant increase in on-task behaviors was seen immediately following these active lessons. Additionally, these improvements were not mediated by BMI.

In sum, although presently understudied, physically active lessons may increase time on task and attention to task in the classroom setting. Given the complexity of the typical classroom, the strategy of including content-specific lessons that incorporate physical activity may be justified.

It is recommended that every child have 20 minutes of recess each day and that this time be outdoors whenever possible, in a safe activity ( NASPE, 2006 ). Consistent engagement in recess can help students refine social skills, learn social mediation skills surrounding fair play, obtain additional minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity that contribute toward the recommend 60 minutes or more per day, and have an opportunity to express their imagination through free play ( Pellegrini and Bohn, 2005 ; see also Chapter 6 ). When children participate in recess before lunch, additional benefits accrue, such as less food waste, increased incidence of appropriate behavior in the cafeteria during lunch, and greater student readiness to learn upon returning to the classroom after lunch ( Getlinger et al., 1996 ; Wechsler et al., 2001 ).

To examine the effects of engagement in physical activity during recess on classroom behavior, Barros and colleagues (2009) examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study on 10,000 8- to 9-year-old children. Teachers provided the number of minutes of recess as well as a ranking of classroom behavior (ranging from “misbehaves frequently” to “behaves exceptionally well”). Results indicate that children who had at least 15 minutes of recess were more likely to exhibit appropriate behavior in the classroom ( Barros et al., 2009 ). In another study, 43 4th-grade students were randomly assigned to 1 or no days of recess to examine the effects on classroom behavior ( Jarrett et al., 1998 ). The researchers concluded that on-task behavior was better among the children who had recess. A moderate effect size (= 0.51) was observed. In a series of studies examining kindergartners' attention to task following a 20-minute recess, increased time on task was observed during learning centers and story reading ( Pellegrini et al., 1995 ). Despite these positive findings centered on improved attention, it is important to note that few of these studies actually measured the intensity of the physical activity during recess.

From a slightly different perspective, survey data from 547 Virginia elementary school principals suggest that time dedicated to student participation in physical education, art, and music did not negatively influence academic performance ( Wilkins et al., 2003 ). Thus, the strategy of reducing time spent in physical education to increase academic performance may not have the desired effect. The evidence on in-school physical activity supports the provision of physical activity breaks during the school day as a way to increase fluid intelligence, time on task, and attention. However, it remains unclear what portion of these effects can be attributed to a break from academic time and what portion is a direct result of the specific demands/characteristics of the physical activity.


The study of brain health has grown beyond simply measuring behavioral outcomes such as task performance and reaction time (e.g., cognitive processing speed). New technology has emerged that has allowed scientists to understand the impact of lifestyle factors on the brain from the body systems level down to the molecular level. A greater understanding of the cognitive components that subserve academic performance and may be amenable to intervention has thereby been gained. Research conducted in both laboratory and field settings has helped define this line of inquiry and identify some preliminary underlying mechanisms.

The Evidence Base on the Relationship of Physical Activity to Brain Health and Cognition in Older Adults

Despite the current focus on the relationship of physical activity to cognitive development, the evidence base is larger on the association of physical activity with brain health and cognition during aging. Much can be learned about how physical activity affects childhood cognition and scholastic achievement through this work. Despite earlier investigations into the relationship of physical activity to cognitive aging (see Etnier et al., 1997 , for a review), the field was shaped by the findings of Kramer and colleagues (1999) , who examined the effects of aerobic fitness training on older adults using a randomized controlled design. Specifically, 124 older adults aged 60 and 75 were randomly assigned to a 6-month intervention of either walking (i.e., aerobic training) or flexibility (i.e., nonaerobic) training. The walking group but not the flexibility group showed improved cognitive performance, measured as a shorter response time to the presented stimulus. Results from a series of tasks that tapped different aspects of cognitive control indicated that engagement in physical activity is a beneficial means of combating cognitive aging ( Kramer et al., 1999 ).

Cognitive control, or executive control, is involved in the selection, scheduling, and coordination of computational processes underlying perception, memory, and goal-directed action. These processes allow for the optimization of behavioral interactions within the environment through flexible modulation of the ability to control attention ( MacDonald et al., 2000 ; Botvinick et al., 2001 ). Core cognitive processes that make up cognitive control or executive control include inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility ( Diamond, 2006 ), processes mediated by networks that involve the prefrontal cortex. Inhibition (or inhibitory control) refers to the ability to override a strong internal or external pull so as to act appropriately within the demands imposed by the environment ( Davidson et al., 2006 ). For example, one exerts inhibitory control when one stops speaking when the teacher begins lecturing. Working memory refers to the ability to represent information mentally, manipulate stored information, and act on the information ( Davidson et al., 2006 ). In solving a difficult mathematical problem, for example, one must often remember the remainder. Finally, cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to switch perspectives, focus attention, and adapt behavior quickly and flexibly for the purposes of goal-directed action ( Blair et al., 2005 ; Davidson et al., 2006 ; Diamond, 2006 ). For example, one must shift attention from the teacher who is teaching a lesson to one's notes to write down information for later study.

Based on their earlier findings on changes in cognitive control induced by aerobic training, Colcombe and Kramer (2003) conducted a meta-analysis to examine the relationship between aerobic training and cognition in older adults aged 55-80 using data from 18 randomized controlled exercise interventions. Their findings suggest that aerobic training is associated with general cognitive benefits that are selectively and disproportionately greater for tasks or task components requiring greater amounts of cognitive control. A second and more recent meta-analysis ( Smith et al., 2010 ) corroborates the findings of Colcombe and Kramer, indicating that aerobic exercise is related to attention, processing speed, memory, and cognitive control; however, it should be noted that smaller effect sizes were observed, likely a result of the studies included in the respective meta-analyses. In older adults, then, aerobic training selectively improves cognition.

Hillman and colleagues (2006) examined the relationship between physical activity and inhibition (one aspect of cognitive control) using a computer-based stimulus-response protocol in 241 individuals aged 15-71. Their results indicate that greater amounts of physical activity are related to decreased response speed across task conditions requiring variable amounts of inhibition, suggesting a generalized relationship between physical activity and response speed. In addition, the authors found physical activity to be related to better accuracy across conditions in older adults, while no such relationship was observed for younger adults. Of interest, this relationship was disproportionately larger for the condition requiring greater amounts of inhibition in the older adults, suggesting that physical activity has both a general and selective association with task performance ( Hillman et al., 2006 ).

With advances in neuroimaging techniques, understanding of the effects of physical activity and aerobic fitness on brain structure and function has advanced rapidly over the past decade. In particular, a series of studies ( Colcombe et al., 2003 , 2004 , 2006 ; Kramer and Erickson, 2007 ; Hillman et al., 2008 ) of older individuals has been conducted to elucidate the relation of aerobic fitness to the brain and cognition. Normal aging results in the loss of brain tissue ( Colcombe et al., 2003 ), with markedly larger loss evidenced in the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions ( Raz, 2000 ). Thus cognitive functions subserved by these brain regions (such as those involved in cognitive control and aspects of memory) are expected to decay more dramatically than other aspects of cognition.

Colcombe and colleagues (2003) investigated the relationship of aerobic fitness to gray and white matter tissue loss using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 55 healthy older adults aged 55-79. They observed robust age-related decreases in tissue density in the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions using voxel-based morphometry, a technique used to assess brain volume. Reductions in the amount of tissue loss in these regions were observed as a function of fitness. Given that the brain structures most affected by aging also demonstrated the greatest fitness-related sparing, these initial findings provide a biological basis for fitness-related benefits to brain health during aging.

In a second study, Colcombe and colleagues (2006) examined the effects of aerobic fitness training on brain structure using a randomized controlled design with 59 sedentary healthy adults aged 60-79. The treatment group received a 6-month aerobic exercise (i.e., walking) intervention, while the control group received a stretching and toning intervention that did not include aerobic exercise. Results indicated that gray and white matter brain volume increased for those who received the aerobic fitness training intervention. No such results were observed for those assigned to the stretching and toning group. Specifically, those assigned to the aerobic training intervention demonstrated increased gray matter in the frontal lobes, including the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, the supplementary motor area, the middle frontal gyrus, the dorsolateral region of the right inferior frontal gyrus, and the left superior temporal lobe. White matter volume changes also were evidenced following the aerobic fitness intervention, with increases in white matter tracts being observed within the anterior third of the corpus callosum. These brain regions are important for cognition, as they have been implicated in the cognitive control of attention and memory processes. These findings suggest that aerobic training not only spares age-related loss of brain structures but also may in fact enhance the structural health of specific brain regions.

In addition to the structural changes noted above, research has investigated the relationship between aerobic fitness and changes in brain function. That is, aerobic fitness training has also been observed to induce changes in patterns of functional activation. Functional MRI (fMRI) measures, which make it possible to image activity in the brain while an individual is performing a cognitive task, have revealed that aerobic training induces changes in patterns of functional activation. This approach involves inferring changes in neuronal activity from alteration in blood flow or metabolic activity in the brain. In a seminal paper, Colcombe and colleagues (2004) examined the relationship of aerobic fitness to brain function and cognition across two studies with older adults. In the first study, 41 older adult participants (mean age ~66) were divided into higher- and lower-fit groups based on their performance on a maximal exercise test. In the second study, 29 participants (aged 58-77) were recruited and randomly assigned to either a fitness training (i.e., walking) or control (i.e., stretching and toning) intervention. In both studies, participants were given a task requiring variable amounts of attention and inhibition. Results indicated that fitness (study 1) and fitness training (study 2) were related to greater activation in the middle frontal gyrus and superior parietal cortex; these regions of the brain are involved in attentional control and inhibitory functioning, processes entailed in the regulation of attention and action. These changes in neural activation were related to significant improvements in performance on the cognitive control task of attention and inhibition.

Taken together, the findings across studies suggest that an increase in aerobic fitness, derived from physical activity, is related to improvements in the integrity of brain structure and function and may underlie improvements in cognition across tasks requiring cognitive control. Although developmental differences exist, the general paradigm of this research can be applied to early stages of the life span, and some early attempts to do so have been made, as described below. Given the focus of this chapter on childhood cognition, it should be noted that this section has provided only a brief and arguably narrow look at the research on physical activity and cognitive aging. Considerable work has detailed the relationship of physical activity to other aspects of adult cognition using behavioral and neuroimaging tools (e.g., Boecker, 2011 ). The interested reader is referred to a number of review papers and meta-analyses describing the relationship of physical activity to various aspects of cognitive and brain health ( Etnier et al., 1997 ; Colcombe and Kramer, 2003 ; Tomporowski, 2003 ; Thomas et al., 2012 ).

Child Development, Brain Structure, and Function

Certain aspects of development have been linked with experience, indicating an intricate interplay between genetic programming and environmental influences. Gray matter, and the organization of synaptic connections in particular, appears to be at least partially dependent on experience (NRC/IOM, 2000; Taylor, 2006 ), with the brain exhibiting a remarkable ability to reorganize itself in response to input from sensory systems, other cortical systems, or insult ( Huttenlocher and Dabholkar, 1997 ). During typical development, experience shapes the pruning process through the strengthening of neural networks that support relevant thoughts and actions and the elimination of unnecessary or redundant connections. Accordingly, the brain responds to experience in an adaptive or “plastic” manner, resulting in the efficient and effective adoption of thoughts, skills, and actions relevant to one's interactions within one's environmental surroundings. Examples of neural plasticity in response to unique environmental interaction have been demonstrated in human neuroimaging studies of participation in music ( Elbert et al., 1995 ; Chan et al., 1998 ; Münte et al., 2001 ) and sports ( Hatfield and Hillman, 2001 ; Aglioti et al., 2008 ), thus supporting the educational practice of providing music education and opportunities for physical activity to children.

Effects of Regular Engagement in Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Brain Structure

Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques have rapidly advanced understanding of the role physical activity and aerobic fitness may have in brain structure. In children a growing body of correlational research suggests differential brain structure related to aerobic fitness. Chaddock and colleagues (2010a , b ) showed a relationship among aerobic fitness, brain volume, and aspects of cognition and memory. Specifically, Chaddock and colleagues (2010a) assigned 9- to 10-year-old preadolescent children to lower- and higher-fitness groups as a function of their scores on a maximal oxygen uptake (VO 2 max) test, which is considered the gold-standard measure of aerobic fitness. They observed larger bilateral hippocampal volume in higher-fit children using MRI, as well as better performance on a task of relational memory. It is important to note that relational memory has been shown to be mediated by the hippocampus ( Cohen and Eichenbaum, 1993 ; Cohen et al., 1999 ). Further, no differences emerged for a task condition requiring item memory, which is supported by structures outside the hippocampus, suggesting selectivity among the aspects of memory that benefit from higher amounts of fitness. Lastly, hippocampal volume was positively related to performance on the relational memory task but not the item memory task, and bilateral hippocampal volume was observed to mediate the relationship between fitness and relational memory ( Chaddock et al., 2010a ). Such findings are consistent with behavioral measures of relational memory in children ( Chaddock et al., 2011 ) and neuroimaging findings in older adults ( Erickson et al., 2009 , 2011 ) and support the robust nonhuman animal literature demonstrating the effects of exercise on cell proliferation ( Van Praag et al., 1999 ) and survival ( Neeper et al., 1995 ) in the hippocampus.

In a second investigation ( Chaddock et al., 2010b ), higher- and lower-fit children (aged 9-10) underwent an MRI to determine whether structural differences might be found that relate to performance on a cognitive control task that taps attention and inhibition. The authors observed differential findings in the basal ganglia, a subcortical structure involved in the interplay of cognition and willed action. Specifically, higher-fit children exhibited greater volume in the dorsal striatum (i.e., caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus) relative to lower-fit children, while no differences were observed in the ventral striatum. Such findings are not surprising given the role of the dorsal striatum in cognitive control and response resolution ( Casey et al., 2008 ; Aron et al., 2009 ), as well as the growing body of research in children and adults indicating that higher levels of fitness are associated with better control of attention, memory, and cognition ( Colcombe and Kramer, 2003 ; Hillman et al., 2008 ; Chang and Etnier, 2009 ). Chaddock and colleagues (2010b) further observed that higher-fit children exhibited increased inhibitory control and response resolution and that higher basal ganglia volume was related to better task performance. These findings indicate that the dorsal striatum is involved in these aspects of higher-order cognition and that fitness may influence cognitive control during preadolescent development. It should be noted that both studies described above were correlational in nature, leaving open the possibility that other factors related to fitness and/or the maturation of subcortical structures may account for the observed group differences.

Effects of Regular Engagement in Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Brain Function

Other research has attempted to characterize fitness-related differences in brain function using fMRI and event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which are neuroelectric indices of functional brain activation in the electro-encephalographic time series. To date, few randomized controlled interventions have been conducted. Notably, Davis and colleagues (2011) conducted one such intervention lasting approximately 14 weeks that randomized 20 sedentary overweight preadolescent children into an after-school physical activity intervention or a nonactivity control group. The fMRI data collected during an antisaccade task, which requires inhibitory control, indicated increased bilateral activation of the prefrontal cortex and decreased bilateral activation of the posterior parietal cortex following the physical activity intervention relative to the control group. Such findings illustrate some of the neural substrates influenced by participation in physical activity. Two additional correlational studies ( Voss et al., 2011 ; Chaddock et al., 2012 ) compared higher- and lower-fit preadolescent children and found differential brain activation and superior task performance as a function of fitness. That is, Chaddock and colleagues (2012) observed increased activation in prefrontal and parietal brain regions during early task blocks and decreased activation during later task blocks in higher-fit relative to lower-fit children. Given that higher-fit children outperformed lower-fit children on the aspects of the task requiring the greatest amount of cognitive control, the authors reason that the higher-fit children were more capable of adapting neural activity to meet the demands imposed by tasks that tapped higher-order cognitive processes such as inhibition and goal maintenance. Voss and colleagues (2011) used a similar task to vary cognitive control requirements and found that higher-fit children outperformed their lower-fit counterparts and that such differences became more pronounced during task conditions requiring the upregulation of control. Further, several differences emerged across various brain regions that together make up the network associated with cognitive control. Collectively, these differences suggest that higher-fit children are more efficient in the allocation of resources in support of cognitive control operations.

Other imaging research has examined the neuroelectric system (i.e., ERPs) to investigate which cognitive processes occurring between stimulus engagement and response execution are influenced by fitness. Several studies ( Hillman et al., 2005 , 2009 ; Pontifex et al., 2011 ) have examined the P3 component of the stimulus-locked ERP and demonstrated that higher-fit children have larger-amplitude and shorter-latency ERPs relative to their lower-fit peers. Classical theory suggests that P3 relates to neuronal activity associated with revision of the mental representation of the previous event within the stimulus environment ( Donchin, 1981 ). P3 amplitude reflects the allocation of attentional resources when working memory is updated ( Donchin and Coles, 1988 ) such that P3 is sensitive to the amount of attentional resources allocated to a stimulus ( Polich, 1997 ; Polich and Heine, 2007 ). P3 latency generally is considered to represent stimulus evaluation and classification speed ( Kutas et al., 1977 ; Duncan-Johnson, 1981 ) and thus may be considered a measure of stimulus detection and evaluation time ( Magliero et al., 1984 ; Ila and Polich, 1999 ). Therefore the above findings suggest that higher-fit children allocate greater attentional resources and have faster cognitive processing speed relative to lower-fit children ( Hillman et al., 2005 , 2009 ), with additional research suggesting that higher-fit children also exhibit greater flexibility in the allocation of attentional resources, as indexed by greater modulation of P3 amplitude across tasks that vary in the amount of cognitive control required ( Pontifex et al., 2011 ). Given that higher-fit children also demonstrate better performance on cognitive control tasks, the P3 component appears to reflect the effectiveness of a subset of cognitive systems that support willed action ( Hillman et al., 2009 ; Pontifex et al., 2011 ).

Two ERP studies ( Hillman et al., 2009 ; Pontifex et al., 2011 ) have focused on aspects of cognition involved in action monitoring. That is, the error-related negativity (ERN) component was investigated in higher- and lower-fit children to determine whether differences in evaluation and regulation of cognitive control operations were influenced by fitness level. The ERN component is observed in response-locked ERP averages. It is often elicited by errors of commission during task performance and is believed to represent either the detection of errors during task performance ( Gehring et al., 1993 ; Holroyd and Coles, 2002 ) or more generally the detection of response conflict ( Botvinick et al., 2001 ; Yeung et al., 2004 ), which may be engendered by errors in response production. Several studies have reported that higher-fit children exhibit smaller ERN amplitude during rapid-response tasks (i.e., instructions emphasizing speed of responding; Hillman et al., 2009 ) and more flexibility in the allocation of these resources during tasks entailing variable cognitive control demands, as evidenced by changes in ERN amplitude for higher-fit children and no modulation of ERN in lower-fit children ( Pontifex et al., 2011 ). Collectively, this pattern of results suggests that children with lower levels of fitness allocate fewer attentional resources during stimulus engagement (P3 amplitude) and exhibit slower cognitive processing speed (P3 latency) but increased activation of neural resources involved in the monitoring of their actions (ERN amplitude). Alternatively, higher-fit children allocate greater resources to environmental stimuli and demonstrate less reliance on action monitoring (increasing resource allocation only to meet the demands of the task). Under more demanding task conditions, the strategy of lower-fit children appears to fail since they perform more poorly under conditions requiring the upregulation of cognitive control.

Finally, only one randomized controlled trial published to date has used ERPs to assess neurocognitive function in children. Kamijo and colleagues (2011) studied performance on a working memory task before and after a 9-month physical activity intervention compared with a wait-list control group. They observed better performance following the physical activity intervention during task conditions that required the upregulation of working memory relative to the task condition requiring lesser amounts of working memory. Further, increased activation of the contingent negative variation (CNV), an ERP component reflecting cognitive and motor preparation, was observed at posttest over frontal scalp sites in the physical activity intervention group. No differences in performance or brain activation were noted for the wait-list control group. These findings suggest an increase in cognitive preparation processes in support of a more effective working memory network resulting from prolonged participation in physical activity. For children in a school setting, regular participation in physical activity as part of an after-school program is particularly beneficial for tasks that require the use of working memory.

Adiposity and Risk for Metabolic Syndrome as It Relates to Cognitive Health

A related and emerging literature that has recently been popularized investigates the relationship of adiposity to cognitive and brain health and academic performance. Several reports ( Datar et al., 2004 ; Datar and Sturm, 2006 ; Judge and Jahns, 2007 ; Gable et al., 2012 ) on this relationship are based on large-scale datasets derived from the Early Child Longitudinal Study. Further, nonhuman animal research has been used to elucidate the relationships between health indices and cognitive and brain health (see Figure 4-4 for an overview of these relationships). Collectively, these studies observed poorer future academic performance among children who entered school overweight or moved from a healthy weight to overweight during the course of development. Corroborating evidence for a negative relationship between adiposity and academic performance may be found in smaller but more tightly controlled studies. As noted above, Castelli and colleagues (2007) observed poorer performance on the mathematics and reading portions of the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test in 3rd- and 5th-grade students as a function of higher BMI, and Donnelly and colleagues (2009) used a cluster randomized trial to demonstrate that physical activity in the classroom decreased BMI and improved academic achievement among pre-adolescent children.

Relationships between health indices and cognitive and brain health. NOTE: AD = Alzheimer's disease; PD = Parkinson's disease. SOURCE: Cotman et al., 2007. Reprinted with permission.

Recently published reports describe the relationship between adiposity and cognitive and brain health to advance understanding of the basic cognitive processes and neural substrates that may underlie the adiposity-achievement relationship. Bolstered by findings in adult populations (e.g., Debette et al., 2010 ; Raji et al., 2010 ; Carnell et al., 2011 ), researchers have begun to publish data on preadolescent populations indicating differences in brain function and cognitive performance related to adiposity (however, see Gunstad et al., 2008 , for an instance in which adiposity was unrelated to cognitive outcomes). Specifically, Kamijo and colleagues (2012a) examined the relationship of weight status to cognitive control and academic achievement in 126 children aged 7-9. The children completed a battery of cognitive control tasks, and their body composition was assessed using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The authors found that higher BMI and greater amounts of fat mass (particularly in the midsection) were related to poorer performance on cognitive control tasks involving inhibition, as well as lower academic achievement. In follow-up studies, Kamijo and colleagues (2012b) investigated whether neural markers of the relationship between adiposity and cognition may be found through examination of ERP data. These studies compared healthy-weight and obese children and found a differential distribution of the P3 potential (i.e., less frontally distributed) and larger N2 amplitude, as well as smaller ERN magnitude, in obese children during task conditions that required greater amounts of inhibitory control ( Kamijo et al., 2012c ). Taken together, the above results suggest that obesity is associated with less effective neural processes during stimulus capture and response execution. As a result, obese children perform tasks more slowly ( Kamijo et al., 2012a ) and are less accurate ( Kamijo et al., 2012b , c ) in response to tasks requiring variable amounts of cognitive control. Although these data are correlational, they provide a basis for further study using other neuroimaging tools (e.g., MRI, fMRI), as well as a rationale for the design and implementation of randomized controlled studies that would allow for causal interpretation of the relationship of adiposity to cognitive and brain health. The next decade should provide a great deal of information on this relationship.


Despite the promising findings described in this chapter, it should be noted that the study of the relationship of childhood physical activity, aerobic fitness, and adiposity to cognitive and brain health and academic performance is in its early stages. Accordingly, most studies have used designs that afford correlation rather than causation. To date, in fact, only two randomized controlled trials ( Davis et al., 2011 ; Kamijo et al., 2011 ) on this relationship have been published. However, several others are currently ongoing, and it was necessary to provide evidence through correlational studies before investing the effort, time, and funding required for more demanding causal studies. Given that the evidence base in this area has grown exponentially in the past 10 years through correlational studies and that causal evidence has accumulated through adult and nonhuman animal studies, the next step will be to increase the amount of causal evidence available on school-age children.

Accomplishing this will require further consideration of demographic factors that may moderate the physical activity–cognition relationship. For instance, socioeconomic status has a unique relationship with physical activity ( Estabrooks et al., 2003 ) and cognitive control ( Mezzacappa, 2004 ). Although many studies have attempted to control for socioeconomic status (see Hillman et al., 2009 ; Kamijo et al., 2011 , 2012a , b , c ; Pontifex et al., 2011 ), further inquiry into its relationship with physical activity, adiposity, and cognition is warranted to determine whether it may serve as a potential mediator or moderator for the observed relationships. A second demographic factor that warrants further consideration is gender. Most authors have failed to describe gender differences when reporting on the physical activity–cognition literature. However, studies of adiposity and cognition have suggested that such a relationship may exist (see Datar and Sturm, 2006 ). Additionally, further consideration of age is warranted. Most studies have examined a relatively narrow age range, consisting of a few years. Such an approach often is necessary because of maturation and the need to develop comprehensive assessment tools that suit the various stages of development. However, this approach has yielded little understanding of how the physical activity–cognition relationship may change throughout the course of maturation.

Finally, although a number of studies have described the relationship of physical activity, fitness, and adiposity to standardized measures of academic performance, few attempts have been made to observe the relationship within the context of the educational environment. Standardized tests, although necessary to gauge knowledge, may not be the most sensitive measures for (the process of) learning. Future research will need to do a better job of translating promising laboratory findings to the real world to determine the value of this relationship in ecologically valid settings.

From an authentic and practical to a mechanistic perspective, physically active and aerobically fit children consistently outperform their inactive and unfit peers academically on both a short- and a long-term basis. Time spent engaged in physical activity is related not only to a healthier body but also to enriched cognitive development and lifelong brain health. Collectively, the findings across the body of literature in this area suggest that increases in aerobic fitness, derived from physical activity, are related to improvements in the integrity of brain structure and function that underlie academic performance. The strongest relationships have been found between aerobic fitness and performance in mathematics, reading, and English. For children in a school setting, regular participation in physical activity is particularly beneficial with respect to tasks that require working memory and problem solving. These findings are corroborated by the results of both authentic correlational studies and experimental randomized controlled trials. Overall, the benefits of additional time dedicated to physical education and other physical activity opportunities before, during, and after school outweigh the benefits of exclusive utilization of school time for academic learning, as physical activity opportunities offered across the curriculum do not inhibit academic performance.

Both habitual and single bouts of physical activity contribute to enhanced academic performance. Findings indicate a robust relationship of acute exercise to increased attention, with evidence emerging for a relationship between participation in physical activity and disciplinary behaviors, time on task, and academic performance. Specifically, higher-fit children allocate greater resources to a given task and demonstrate less reliance on environmental cues or teacher prompting.

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Home — Essay Samples — Nursing & Health — Maintaining Health — Physical Exercise

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Essay Examples on Physical Exercise

Hook examples for physical exercise essays, anecdotal hook.

As I pushed myself to finish that last mile, my heart pounding and sweat pouring down my face, I realized that exercise isn't just about physical fitness; it's a journey of self-discovery.

Question Hook

Why is it that some people find solace in the rhythmic beat of their running shoes on the pavement, while others dread the mere thought of breaking a sweat? What makes exercise such a diverse and personal experience?

Quotation Hook

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity." These words from John F. Kennedy emphasize the profound connection between physical exercise and mental well-being.

Health Benefits Hook

Physical exercise isn't just about sculpting a perfect physique; it's a lifeline to health. Delve into the myriad benefits, from reducing the risk of chronic diseases to boosting immunity, that come with regular physical activity.

Motivation and Discipline Hook

What does it take to overcome the allure of a comfortable couch and choose the treadmill instead? The journey of self-discipline and motivation in the realm of physical exercise is a fascinating one to explore.

Exercise and Mental Well-being Hook

Physical exercise isn't just about improving the body; it's about enhancing the mind. Dive into the science of endorphins, the "feel-good" chemicals, and how they can transform your mental state through exercise.

Personal Transformation Hook

For many, physical exercise isn't just a routine; it's a profound transformation. Share stories of individuals who've turned their lives around through fitness, demonstrating the power of resilience and determination.

Exercise Trends and Innovations Hook

From CrossFit to wearable technology, the world of physical exercise is constantly evolving. Explore the latest trends and innovations that are reshaping how we approach fitness and well-being.

Physical Activity on Blood Pressure Levels in Adults

Examining the link between exercise and longevity, made-to-order essay as fast as you need it.

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Benefits of Running

Physical activity: benefits of exercise for health and wellbeing, why we should be playing sports, what do you feel after exercise: my experience, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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Physical Activity in Older Adults

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My Personal Physical Fitness Program: Physical Goals and Opportunities

The effects of physical activity on mental health, the best exercises to gain muscle and strength , recreational soccer: cardiovascular health, physical fitness, and mental health, physical fitness: the evolution of "exercise", possibly the most important factor in weight loss, an important reasons to do exercise, the importance of sports and outdoor activities for children’s development, fitness training program: planning and performance, the positive impact of exercise in protecting the brain from alzheimer's disease, effects of ignorance to regular body exercise, physical therapy: today it hurts, tomorrow it works, importance of optimal dynamic warm-up, how sports activities help to increase learning abilities, your motivation to do sports, we should care about sedentary behavior, the importance of sports in life, the importance of healthy eating and exercise for children, weight loss: the role of healthy eating and exercising, how an individual’s personality can impact sports performance.

Physical exercise is the performance of some activity in order to develop or maintain physical fitness and overall health.

Physical exercises are generally grouped into three types: aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, skipping rope, rowing, hiking, dancing, playing tennis, continuous training, and long distance running), anaerobic exercise (push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats, bench press, etc.), and flexibility exercises (stretching).

Regular exercise helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercising improves brain performance Fat and muscle are completely different types of tissue. Muscle cannot turn into fat. People who don’t regularly exercise may lose up to 80% of their muscle strength by age 65.

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essay about physical activities

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  • Published: 09 February 2024

Key influences on university students’ physical activity: a systematic review using the Theoretical Domains Framework and the COM-B model of human behaviour

  • Catherine E. B. Brown 1 ,
  • Karyn Richardson 1 ,
  • Bengianni Halil-Pizzirani 1 ,
  • Lou Atkins 2 ,
  • Murat Yücel 3   na1 &
  • Rebecca A. Segrave 1   na1  

BMC Public Health volume  24 , Article number:  418 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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Metrics details

Physical activity is important for all aspects of health, yet most university students are not active enough to reap these benefits. Understanding the factors that influence physical activity in the context of behaviour change theory is valuable to inform the development of effective evidence-based interventions to increase university students’ physical activity. The current systematic review a) identified barriers and facilitators to university students’ physical activity, b) mapped these factors to the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) and COM-B model, and c) ranked the relative importance of TDF domains.

Data synthesis included qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research published between 01.01.2010—15.03.2023. Four databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, and Scopus) were searched to identify publications on the barriers/facilitators to university students' physical activity. Data regarding study design and key findings (i.e., participant quotes, qualitative theme descriptions, and survey results) were extracted. Framework analysis was used to code barriers/facilitators to the TDF and COM-B model. Within each TDF domain, thematic analysis was used to group similar barriers/facilitators into descriptive theme labels. TDF domains were ranked by relative importance based on frequency, elaboration, and evidence of mixed barriers/facilitators.

Thirty-nine studies involving 17,771 participants met the inclusion criteria. Fifty-six barriers and facilitators mapping to twelve TDF domains and the COM-B model were identified as relevant to students’ physical activity. Three TDF domains, environmental context and resources (e.g., time constraints), social influences (e.g., exercising with others), and goals (e.g., prioritisation of physical activity) were judged to be of greatest relative importance (identified in > 50% of studies). TDF domains of lower relative importance were intentions, reinforcement, emotion, beliefs about consequences, knowledge, physical skills, beliefs about capabilities, cognitive and interpersonal skills, social/professional role and identity, and behavioural regulation. No barriers/facilitators relating to the TDF domains of memory, attention and decision process, or optimism were identified.


The current findings provide a foundation to enhance the development of theory and evidence informed interventions to support university students’ engagement in physical activity. Interventions that include a focus on the TDF domains 'environmental context and resources,' 'social influences,' and 'goals,' hold particular promise for promoting active student lifestyles.

Trial registration

Prospero ID—CRD42021242170.

Peer Review reports

Physical activity (PA) has a powerful positive impact on all aspects of health. Regular PA can prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases [ 1 , 2 ], build resilience against the development of mental illness [ 3 ], and attenuate cognitive decline [ 4 ]. Given these pervasive health benefits, increasing participation in PA is recognised as a global priority by international public health organisations. Indeed, a core aspect of the World Health Organisation’s action plan for a “healthier world” is to achieve a 15% reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity by 2030 [ 5 ].

Despite international efforts to reduce physical inactivity, university students frequently do not meet the recommended level of PA required to attain its health benefits. Approximately 40–50% of university students are physically inactive [ 6 ], many of whom attribute their inactivity to unique challenges associated with university life. For many students, the transition to university coincides with new academic, social, financial, and personal responsibilities [ 7 ], disrupting established routines and imposing additional barriers to the initiation or maintenance of healthy lifestyle habits such as regular PA [ 8 ]. Students’ PA tends to decline further during periods of high stress and academic pressure, such as exams and assignment deadlines [ 9 ]. This pattern has been observed across diverse university populations and cultural contexts [ 10 , 11 , 12 ], highlighting the importance of understanding the factors that contribute to physical inactivity among this cohort globally.

Understanding the barriers and facilitators to PA in the context of the university setting is an important step in developing effective, targeted interventions to promote active lifestyles among university students. A recently published systematic review found that lack of time, motivation, access to places to practice PA, and financial resources were primary barriers to PA for undergraduate university students [ 13 ]. A corresponding and complementary synthesis of the facilitators of PA, however, has not yet been conducted. Such a synthesis would be valuable in enabling a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence students' PA and identifying facilitators that could be leveraged in intervention design. Furthermore, applying theoretical frameworks to understand barriers and facilitators to PA can guide the development of theory-informed, evidence-based interventions for university students that purposely and effectively target factors that influence their participation in PA.

The Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) [ 14 , 15 , 16 ] and the COM-B model of behaviour [ 17 ] are two robust, gold-standard frameworks frequently used to examine the determinants of human behaviour. The TDF is an integrated framework of 14 theoretical domains (see Additional file 1 for domains, definitions, and constructs) which provide a comprehensive understanding of the key factors driving behaviour. The TDF was developed through expert consensus, synthesising 33 psychological theories (such as social cognitive theory [ 18 , 19 ] and the theory of planned behaviour [ 20 , 21 ] and 128 theoretical constructs (such as ‘competence’, ‘goal priority’, etc.) across disciplines identified as most relevant to the implementation of behaviour change interventions. Identifying the relative importance of theoretical domains allows intervention designers to triage which behaviour change strategies should be prioritised in intervention development [ 22 , 23 ]. The TDF has been widely applied by researchers and practitioners to systematically identify which theoretical domains are most relevant for understanding health behaviour change and policy implementation across a range of contexts, including education [ 24 ], healthcare [ 25 ], and workplace environments [ 26 ].

The 14 TDF domains map onto the COM-B model (Fig.  1 ), which is a broader framework for understanding behaviour and provides a direct link to intervention development frameworks. The COM-B model posits that no behaviour will occur without sufficient capability, opportunity, and motivation. Where any of these are lacking, they can be strategically targeted to support increased engagement in a desired behaviour, including participation in PA. Within the COM-B model, capability can be psychological (e.g., knowledge to engage in the necessary processes) or physical (e.g., physical skills); opportunity can be social (e.g., interpersonal influences) or physical (e.g., environmental resources); and motivation can be automatic (e.g., emotional reactions, habits) or reflective (e.g., intentions, beliefs). The COM-B model was developed through a process of theoretical analysis, empirical evidence, and expert consensus as a central part of a broader framework for developing behaviour change interventions known as the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) [ 17 ].

figure 1

The TDF domains linked to the COM-B model subcomponents

Note. Reproduced from Atkins, L., Francis, J., Islam, R., et al. (2017) A guide to using the Theoretical Domains Framework of behaviour change to investigate implementation problems. Implementation Science 12, 77.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13012-017-0605-9

Using the TDF and COM-B model to understand the barriers and facilitators to university students’ participation in PA is valuable to inform the development of effective evidence-based interventions that are tailored to address the most influential determinants of behaviour change. As such, this systematic review aimed to: a) identify barriers and facilitators to university students’ participation in PA; b) map these factors using the TDF and COM-B model; and c) determine the relative importance of each TDF domain.

Study design

The systematic review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) [ 27 ]. The review protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42021242170).

Search strategy

Search terms and parameters were developed in collaboration with a Monash University librarian with expertise in systematic review methodology. The following databases were searched on 15.03.2023 to identify relevant literature: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and SPORTDiscus. Key articles were also selected for citation searching via Scopus. In consultation with a librarian, these databases were selected due to their unique scope, relevance, broad coverage, and utility. This process ensured the identified literature aligned with the aim and research topic of our systematic review. A 01.01.2010—15.03.2023 publication period was purposefully specified to account for the significant advancements in digital fitness support and tracking tools within the past decade [ 28 ], All available records were searched using the following combination of concepts in the title or abstract of the article: 1) barriers, facilitators, or intervention, Footnote 1 2) physical activity, 3) university, and 4) students. Each search concept was created by first developing a list of search terms relevant to each concept (e.g., for the ‘physical activity’ concept search terms included ‘physical exercise’, ‘physical fitness’, ‘sports’, ‘inactive’, ‘sedentary’, etc.). To create each concept, search terms were then searched collectively using the operator ‘OR’. Each search concept was then combined into the final search by using the operator ‘AND’. Search terms related to concepts 1, 2 and 3 included indexed terms unique and relevant to each database (i.e., Medical Subject Heading Terms for MEDLINE, Index Terms for PsycINFO, and Thesaurus terms for SPORTDiscus). The search was performed according to Boolean operators (e.g., AND, OR) (see Additional file 2 for the complete search syntax for MEDLINE). Unpublished studies were not sought.

Selection criteria

Articles were included if they: (a) reported university students’ self-reported barriers and/or facilitators to physical activity or exercise Footnote 2 ; (b) were written in English; and (c) were peer-reviewed journal articles. Articles encompassed studies directly investigating barriers and/or facilitators to students’ participation in PA and physical exercise intervention studies, where the latter reported participants’ self-reported barriers and/or facilitators to intervention adherence (see Table  1 below for full criteria).

Study selection

Identified articles were uploaded to EndNote X9 software [ 30 ]. A duplication detection tool was used to detect duplicates, which were then screened for accuracy by CB prior to removal. The remaining articles were uploaded to Covidence to enable blind screening and conflict resolution. Articles were screened at the title and abstract level against the inclusion and exclusion criteria by author CB, and 25% were independently screened by BP. The full text of studies meeting the inclusion criteria was then screened against the same criteria by CB, and 25% were again independently screened by BP. Differences were resolved by an independent author (KR). Inter-rater agreement in screening between CB and BP was high (0.96 for title and abstract screening, 0.83 for full-text screening). The decision to dual-screen 25% of studies was strategically chosen to balance thoroughness with efficiency, ensuring both the validity of the screening criteria and the reliability of the primary screener’s decisions. This approach aligns with the protocols used in similar systematic reviews in the field (e.g., [ 31 , 32 ]).

Data extraction

Key article characteristics were extracted, including the author/s, year of publication, country of origin, participant characteristics (e.g., enrolment status, exercise engagement [if reported]), sample size, research design, methods, and analytical approach. Barriers and facilitators were also extracted for each article and subsequently coded according to the 14 domains of the TDF and six subcomponents of the COM-B model. Quantitative data were only extracted if ≥ 50% of students endorsed a factor as a barrier or facilitator. This cut-off criterion was applied to maintain focus on the most common variables of influence and aligns with other reviews synthesising common barriers and facilitators to behaviour change (e.g., [ 26 , 33 ]).

A coding manual was developed to guide the process of mapping barriers and facilitators to the TDF and COM-B. All articles were independently coded by at least two authors (CB and BS, BP or KR). The first version of the manual was developed a priori, based on established guides for applying the TDF and COM-B model to investigate barriers and facilitators to behaviour [ 14 , 34 ], and updated as needed via regular consultation with a co-author and TDF/COM-B designer LA to ensure the accuracy of the data extraction. Barriers and facilitators were only coded to multiple TDF domains if deemed essential to accurately contextualise the core elements of the barrier/facilitator, and when the data in individual papers was described in sufficient detail to indicate that more than one domain was relevant. For example, if ‘lack of time due to competing priorities’ was reported as a barrier to PA, this encompassed both the ‘environmental context and resources’ (i.e., time) and ‘goals’ (i.e., competing priorities) domains of the TDF. Coding conflicts were resolved via discussion with LA.

Data analysis

The following three-step method was utilised to synthesise quantitative and qualitative data:

Framework analysis [ 35 ] was conducted to deductively code barriers and facilitators onto TDF domains and COM-B subcomponents. This involved identifying barriers and facilitators in each article, extracting and labelling them, and determining their relevance against the definitions of the TDF domains and COM-B subcomponents. This process involved creating tables to assist in the systematic categorisation of barriers and facilitators into relevant TDF domains and COM-B subcomponents.

Within each TDF domain, thematic analysis [ 36 ] was conducted to group similar barriers and facilitators together and inductively generate summary theme labels.

The relative importance of each TDF domain was calculated according to frequency (number of studies), elaboration (number of themes) and the identification of mixed barriers/facilitators regarding whether a theme was a barrier or facilitator within each domain (e.g., if some participants reported that receiving encouragement from their family to exercise was a facilitator, and others reported that lack of encouragement from their family to exercise was a barrier). The rank order was determined first by frequency, then elaboration, and finally by mixed barriers/facilitators.

This methodology follows previous studies using the TDF and COM-B to characterise barriers and facilitators to behaviour change and rank their relative importance [ 22 , 23 ].

Study characteristics

Following the removal of duplicates, 6,152 articles met the search criteria and were screened based on title and abstract. A total of 5,995 articles were excluded because they did not meet the inclusion criteria (see Fig.  2 below for the PRISMA flowchart). After the title and abstract screening, 157 full-text articles were retrieved and assessed for eligibility. One additional article was identified and included following citation searching of selected key articles. Thirty-nine articles met the inclusion criteria (see Additional file 3 for a summary of these studies). Eight studies were conducted in the USA, seven in Canada, three in Germany, two each in Qatar, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, and one each in Australia, Belgium, Columbia, Egypt, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.

figure 2

PRISMA flowchart illustrating the article selection process

Relative importance of TDF domains and COM-B components

Twelve of the 14 TDF domains and all six subcomponents of the COM-B model were identified as relevant to university students' PA. The rank order of relative importance of TDF domains and associated COM-B subcomponents are presented in Table  2 . The three most important domains were identified in at least 54% of studies.

Barriers and facilitators to student’s physical activity

Within the TDF domains, 56 total themes were identified, including 26 mixed barriers/facilitators, 18 facilitators and 12 barriers (Table  3 ). The barriers and facilitators identified within each TDF domain are summarised below (with associated COM-B subcomponent presented in parentheses), in order of relative importance:

1. Environmental context and resources (Physical Opportunity) ( n  = 90% studies)

The most frequent barrier to PA across all TDF domains was ‘lack of time’, most often in the context of study demands. Time constraints were exacerbated by long commutes to university, family responsibilities, involvement in co-curricular activities, and employment commitments. Students’ need for ‘easily accessible exercise options, facilities and equipment’ was a recurring theme. PA was deemed inaccessible if exercise facilities and other infrastructure to support PA, such as bike paths and running trails, were situated too far from the university campus or students’ residences, or if fitness classes were scheduled at inconvenient times. ‘Financial costs’ emerged as a theme. The costs associated with accessing exercise facilities, equipment and programs consistently deterred students from engaging in PA. The desire for ‘safe and enjoyable’, ‘weather appropriate’ environments for PA were frequently reported. Participating in outdoor PA in green spaces or near water increased enjoyment, provided the environment felt safe and weather conditions were suitable for PA. Factors related to students’ home, work, and university environment impacted their participation in ‘incidental PA’. Incidental PA was influenced by whether students engaged in domestic house chores, and manual work, and actively commuted to university and between classes on-campus. Students’ ‘access to a variety of physical activities’ and ‘information provision regarding on-campus exercise options’ impacted their PA. Students most often had access to a wide variety of physical activities, however, it could be difficult to access information about what types of activities were available on-campus and how to sign up to participate. The ‘lack of personalised physical activities to cater to individual fitness needs’ was a barrier, particularly for students with low levels of PA who required beginner-oriented programs. Another barrier was the ‘lack of university policy and promotion to encourage PA’, which led students to perceive that there was no obligation to participate in PA and that the university did not value it. ‘Health-concerning behaviours associated with university’, including poor diet, increased alcohol intake and sedentary behaviour, negatively impacted students’ PA. ‘Listening to music while exercising’ was a facilitator.

2. Social influences (Social Opportunity) ( n  = 72% studies)

Within social influences, ‘exercising with others’ emerged as the most frequent theme. Doing so increased students’ accountability, enjoyment and motivation, and helped them to overcome feelings of intimidation when exercising alone. Having a lack of friends to exercise with was a particular concern for students who were new to exercise or infrequently participated in PA. Receiving ‘encouragement from others to be physically active’, such as family members, friends, peers, and fitness instructors, shaped students’ values toward PA and enhanced their motivation and self-efficacy. Students’ family members, friends and teachers discouraged PA if it was not valued, or in favour of other priorities, such as academic commitments. Another recurrent theme was ‘competition or relative comparison to others’. While most students were motivated by competition, a minority felt demotivated if they compared themselves to others with higher PA standards, especially if they failed to achieve similar PA goals. Sociocultural norms influenced barriers/facilitators to PA across different cultures, and between various groups, such as international versus domestic students, and women versus men. Students from Japan and Hawaii viewed PA as an important part of their culture, in contrast to students from the Philippines who described the opposite. Participation in PA enabled international students to integrate with domestic students and learn about the local culture, however cultural segregation was a barrier to participation in university team sports. For female students from some middle-eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, cultural norms made it impermissible for women to engage in PA, particularly compared to men. Religion also differentially impacted barriers/facilitators between women and men. Muslim women reported that Islamic practices, such as needing to engage in PA separately from men, be accompanied by a male family member while going outdoors, or dress modestly, posed additional barriers to PA. However, one study reported that Islamic teachings generally encouraged PA for both women and men by emphasising the importance of maintaining good health. Other gender-specific barriers were identified. Women often felt unwelcome or intimidated by men in exercise facilities, partly due to the perception that these facilities were tailored toward “masculine” sports and/or dominated by men. ‘Being stared at while engaging in PA’ was another barrier, impacting both women and students with a disability. A less common facilitator was the influence of both positive and negative ‘exercise role models’. For example, students practiced PA because they aspired to be like someone who was physically active, or because they did not want to be like someone who was not physically active.

3. Goals (Reflective Motivation) ( n  = 54%)

‘Prioritisation of PA compared to other activities’ was the most common theme within goals. Students frequently prioritised other activities, such as study, social activities, or work, over PA. However, those who played team sports or regularly practiced PA were more inclined to prioritise it for its recognised health benefits (i.e., stress management), and its role in enhancing confidence. Additional facilitators included ‘engaging in PA to achieve an external goal’, such as improving one’s appearance, and ‘setting specific PA-related goals’ as a means to enhance accountability.

4. Intentions (Reflective Motivation) ( n  = 44%)

Within intentions, ‘motivation to engage in PA’ was the most common theme. Students most often noted a lack of self-motivation for PA. Less frequent barriers included perceiving PA as an obligatory or necessary "chore", and ‘failing to follow through on intentions to engage in PA’. Conversely, ‘self-discipline to engage in PA’ emerged as a facilitator that assisted students in maintaining a regular PA routine.

5. Reinforcement (Automatic Motivation) ( n  = 38%)

The most frequent facilitator within reinforcement was ‘experiencing the positive effects of PA’ on their health and wellbeing. These included physical health benefits (i.e., maintaining fitness), psychological benefits (i.e., stress reduction), and cognitive health benefits (i.e., enhanced academic performance). Conversely, barriers arose from ‘experiencing discomfort during or after PA’ due to pain, muscle soreness or fatigue. ‘Past and current habits and routines’ was a theme. Students were more likely to participate in PA if they had established regular exercise routines, and that forming these habits at an early age made it easier to maintain them later in life. However, maintaining a regular PA routine was difficult in the context of inflexible university schedules. Students’ ‘sense of accomplishment in relation to PA’ was a theme. Students were less likely to feel a sense of accomplishment after participating in PA if it was not physically challenging. Consistent facilitators were ‘receiving positive feedback from others’ after engaging in PA, such as compliments, and ‘receiving incentives’, such as reducing the cost of gym memberships if students participated in more PA. ‘Experiencing a sense of achievement’ after reaching a PA-related goal or winning a sports match also served as a facilitator.

6. Emotion (Automatic Motivation) ( n  = 38%)

‘Enjoyment’ was the most frequently cited emotional theme. Most students reported that PA was fun and/or associated with positive feelings, however, a minority described PA as unenjoyable, boring, and repetitive. Students’ ‘poor mental health and negative affectivity’ (such as feeling sad, stressed or self-conscious, as well as fear of injury and pain), adversely impacted their motivation to be physically active.

7. Beliefs about consequences (Reflective Motivation) ( n  = 31%)

‘Beliefs about the physical health consequences of PA’ was the most recurrent barrier/facilitator. Most students understood that PA was essential for maintaining good health and preventing illness. However, some students who rarely or never engaged in PA believed they could delay pursuing an active lifestyle until they were older without compromising their health. Participating in PA to ‘maintain or improve one’s physical appearance’ acted as a facilitator. This motivation was most often cited in contexts such as increasing or decreasing weight, changing body shape or enhancing muscle tone. Beliefs about the positive environmental, occupational and psychological impacts of PA also served as facilitators. Students were motivated to participate in PA due to the environmental benefits of using active transport. They also acknowledged the importance of being physically fit for work and believed that being active was beneficial for mental health. ‘Receiving advice to participate in PA from a credible source’, such as a health professional, further facilitated students’ motivation to be active.

8. Knowledge (Psychological Capability) ( n  = 28%)

'Knowledge about the benefits of PA’, encompassing an understanding of the various types of benefits (i.e., physical, mental, or cognitive) and the biological mechanisms by which PA brings about these changes was identified as the most common knowledge theme. Being aware of these benefits positively influenced students’ motivation to be physically active. Conversely, students’ lack of knowledge about the gym environment and the programs available were barriers to PA. Regarding the gym environment, students’ ‘lack of knowledge about how to navigate through the gym, what exercises to do, and how to use exercise equipment’ amplified feelings of intimidation. Likewise, ‘lack of knowledge about the types of exercise programs and activities that were available on-campus, and how to sign up to participate’ were all barriers. A unique theme emerged concerning ‘knowledge about how to adapt physical activities for students with a disability’. Students with a disability described how fitness instructors often had a limited understanding of how to modify activities to enable them to participate. However, students with a disability were able to overcome this barrier if they possessed their own knowledge about how to tailor physical activities to meet their specific needs.

9. Physical skills (Physical Capability) ( n  = 21%)

The most prevalent theme within physical skills was ‘having the physical skills and fitness to participate in PA’. A lack of physical skills was most frequently a hindrance to PA. Additional obstacles to PA included being physically inhibited due to a ‘lack of energy’ or ‘physical injury’.

10. Beliefs about capabilities (Reflective Motivation) ( n  = 18%)

Within beliefs about capabilities, ‘self-efficacy to participate in PA’ was the most recurrent theme. Students who doubted their success in becoming physically active or who lacked confidence in their ability to initiate PA or participate in sport were less motivated to take part. A less frequent facilitator was students’ ‘self-affirmation to participate in PA’, often referring to positive cognitions about one’s own physical abilities.

11. Cognitive and interpersonal skills (Psychological Capability) ( n  = 15%)

‘Time-management’ was the only theme identified within cognitive and interpersonal skills. Students who struggled to manage their time effectively found it difficult to incorporate regular PA into their daily routine.

12. Social/professional role and identity (Reflective Motivation) ( n  = 8%)

The most frequent theme within social/professional role and identity was ‘perceiving PA as a part of one’s self-identity’. Students who engaged regularly in PA often considered it integral to their identity. Conversely, students who perceived they did not align with the aesthetic and superficial stereotypes commonly associated with the fitness industry felt less motivated to be active. A specific facilitator emerged among physiotherapy students, who were motivated to be active due to the emphasis on PA within their profession.

13. Behavioural regulation (Psychological Capability) ( n  = 3%)

Within the domain of behavioural regulation, two facilitators were equally prevalent: ‘self-monitoring of PA’ and ‘feedback on progress towards a PA-related goal’. By keeping track of their step count and receiving feedback on walking goals, students were motivated to exceed the average number of daily steps or achieve their personal PA targets.

14. Memory, attention, and decision process (Psychological Capability); Optimism (Reflective Motivation) ( n  = 0%)

No barriers or facilitators relating to the TDF domains of memory, attention and decision process, or optimism were identified.

This systematic review used the TDF and COM-B model to identify barriers and facilitators to PA among university students and rank the relative importance of each TDF domain. It is the first review to apply these frameworks in the context of increasing university students’ participation in PA. Twelve TDF domains across all six sub-components of the COM-B model were identified. The three most important TDF domains were ‘environmental context and resources’, ‘social influences’, and ‘goals’. The most common barriers and facilitators were ‘lack of time’, ‘easily accessible exercise options, facilities and equipment’, ‘exercising with others’, and ‘prioritisation of PA compared to other activities’.

The most common barrier to PA was perceived lack of time. This is consistent with previous findings among university students [ 13 , 74 ] and across other populations [ 24 ], For students, lack of time was frequently attributed to a combination of competing priorities and underdeveloped time management skills. Students predominantly prioritised study over PA, as performing well at university is a valued goal and there is a common perception that spending time exercising (at the expense of study) will impede their academic success [ 53 , 58 ]. Evidence from cognitive neuroscience research, however, suggests that this is a mistaken belief. In addition to its broad physical and mental health benefits, a growing body of evidence demonstrates regular PA can change the structure and function of the brain.

These changes can, in turn, enhance numerous aspects of cognition, including memory, attention, and processing speed [ 4 , 75 , 76 , 77 ], and buffer the negative impact of stress on cognition [ 78 ], all of which are important for academic success. However, students are typically unaware of the brain and cognitive health benefits of PA and its potential to improve academic performance, particularly compared to the physical health benefits [ 37 , 40 , 64 ]. Interventions that position participating in PA as a conduit for helping, rather than hindering, academic goals could increase the relative importance of PA to students and therefore increase their motivation to regularly engage in it. The impact that interventions of this nature have on students’ PA is yet to be empirically assessed.

Ineffective time management also contributed to students’ perceived lack of time for PA. Students reported tendencies to procrastinate in the face of overwhelming academic workloads, which left limited time for PA [ 53 ]. Additionally, students lacked an understanding of how to organise time for PA around academic timetables, social and family responsibilities, co-curricular activities, and employment commitments [ 9 , 44 , 53 , 59 ]. To address these challenges, efforts to develop students’ time management skills will be useful for enabling students to regularly participate in PA. Goal-setting and action planning are two specific examples of such skills that can be integrated into interventions to help students initiate and maintain a PA routine [ 79 ]. For example, goal-setting could involve setting a daily PA goal, and action planning could involve planning to engage in a particular PA at a particular time on certain days.

While the most common determinants of university students’ PA levels were not influenced by specific demographic characteristics, several barriers disproportionately impacted women and students with a disability. These findings are in keeping with evidence that PA is lower among these equity-deserving groups compared with the general population [ 68 , 80 ]. For women, particularly those from Middle Eastern cultures, restrictions were often tied to religious practices and sociocultural norms that limited their opportunities to engage in PA [ 45 , 48 , 66 ]. Additionally, a substantial number of women felt intimidated or self-conscious when exercising in front of others, especially men [ 48 , 49 ]. They also felt that exercise facilities were more often tailored towards the needs of men, leading to a perception that they were unwelcome in exercise communities [ 45 , 48 ]. Consequently, women expressed a desire for women-only spaces to exercise to help them overcome these gender-specific barriers to PA [ 47 , 48 , 66 ]. Furthermore, students with a disability faced physical accessibility barriers and perceived stigmatisation that deterred them from PA [ 50 , 52 ]. The lack of accessible exercise facilities and suitable equipment, programs, and education regarding how to adapt physical activities to accommodate their needs limited their opportunity and ability to participate [ 52 ]. Moreover, students with a disability felt stigmatised by others for not fitting into public perceptions of ‘normality’ or the aesthetic values and beauty standards often portrayed by the fitness industry [ 50 ]. These barriers for both equity-deserving groups of students are deeply rooted in historical stereotypes that have traditionally excluded women and people with a disability from engaging in various types of PA [ 81 , 82 ]. Despite growing awareness of these issues, PA inequalities persist due to narrow sociocultural norms, and a lack of diverse representation and inclusion in the fitness industry and associated marketing campaigns [ 83 , 84 ]. A concerted effort to address PA inequalities across the university sector and fitness industry more broadly is needed. One approach for achieving this is to develop interventions that are tailored to the unique needs of equity-deserving groups, emphasise inclusivity, diversity, and empowerment, and feature women and people with a disability being active.

The “This Girl Can” [ 85 ] and “Everyone Can” [ 86 ] multimedia campaigns are two examples of health behaviour interventions that were co-developed with key stakeholders (i.e., women and people with a disability, respectively) to tackle PA inequalities. The “This Girl Can” campaign has reached over 3 million women and girls, projecting inclusive and positive messages that aim to empower them to be physically active. Following the widespread reach of the “This Girl Can” campaign, the “Everybody Can” campaign was launched to support the inclusion of people with a disability in the PA sector. Although not tailored for university students, these campaigns provide a useful example for developing interventions that are specifically designed to address key barriers preventing women and people with a disability from participating in PA.

Across the tertiary education sector globally, efforts to elevate opportunities and motivation to include PA as a core part of the student experience will be beneficial for promoting students’ PA at scale. Two intervention approaches that can be implemented to facilitate such an endeavour are environmental restructuring and enablement [ 17 ]. These intervention approaches should involve the provision of accessible low-cost exercise options, facilities, and programs, integrating PA into the university curriculum, and mobilising student and staff leadership to encourage students’ participation in PA [ 9 ]. Although there is evidence that these approaches can be effective in promoting sustained PA throughout students’ university years and beyond [ 87 ], implementation measures such as these are complex. Implementation requires aligning student activity levels with broader university goals and is further complicated by having to compete with other funding priorities and resource allocations. Notably, due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on university students’ physical and mental health [ 88 , 89 ], the post-pandemic era has seen many universities prioritise enhancing student health and wellbeing alongside more traditional strategic goals like academic excellence and workforce readiness. Despite the potential for PA to be used as a vehicle for supporting these strategic goals there is an absence of data on the extent to which this is occurring in the university sector. The limited evidence in this area suggests that some universities have made efforts to support students’ mental health by referring students who access on-campus counselling services to PA programs [ 90 ]. However, the uptake and efficacy of such initiatives is rarely assessed, and even less is known about whether PA is being used to support other strategic goals, such as academic success. Therefore, while the potential is there for the university sector to use PA to support students’ mental health and academic performance, to be successful this needs to become a strategic university priority. Given that these strategic priorities are set at the senior leadership level, engaging senior university staff in intervention design and promotion efforts is important to enhance the value of PA in the tertiary education sector.

Implications for intervention development

The current findings provide a high-level synthesis of the most common barriers and facilitators to university students’ physical activity. These findings can be leveraged with behavioural intervention development tools and frameworks (e.g., the BCW [ 17 ], Obesity-Related Behavioural Intervention Trials model [ 91 ], Intervention Mapping [ 92 ], and the Medical Research Council guidelines for developing complex interventions [ 93 , 94 ]) to develop evidence-based interventions and policies to promote PA. Given that the TDF and COM-B model are directly linked to the BCW framework, applying this process may be particularly useful to translate the current findings into an intervention.

Additionally, current findings can be triangulated with data directly collected from key stakeholders to assist in the development of context-specific interventions. Best practice principles for developing behavioural interventions recommend this approach to ensure a deep understanding of the barriers and facilitators that need to be targeted to increase the likelihood of behaviour change [ 17 ]. Consulting stakeholders directly (i.e., university students and staff) to understand their perspectives on the barriers and facilitators to students’ PA also enables an intervention to be appropriately tailored to the target population’s needs and implementation setting. Studies continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, especially when framed within the context of frameworks directly linked to intervention development frameworks, such as the TDF [ 95 ].

Strengths and limitations

The findings of this review should be considered with respect to its methodological strengths and limitations. The credibility and reliability of the research findings are supported by a systematic approach to screening and analysing the empirical data, along with the use of gold-standard behavioural science frameworks to classify barriers and facilitators to PA. The inclusion of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies of both barriers and facilitators to students’ PA allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence students’ PA that have not previously been captured.

While the present review elucidates students’ own perspectives of the factors that influence their activity levels, other stakeholders such as university staff, will also influence the adoption, operationalisation, and scale of PA interventions in a university setting. It will be important for future research to explore factors that influence university decision-makers in these roles to inform large-scale strategies for promoting students' PA.

Additionally, only one study included in the review used the TDF to explore barriers and facilitators to PA [ 47 ]. Therefore, it is possible that certain TDF domains may not have been identified because students were not asked relevant questions to assess the influence of those domains on their PA. For instance, domains such as ‘memory, attention, and decision process’, and ‘optimism’ are likely to play a role in understanding the barriers and facilitators to PA despite not being identified in this review.

Moreover, quantitative data were only extracted if ≥ 50% of students endorsed the factor as a barrier or facilitator to PA. This threshold was purposefully applied to maintain a focus on the TDF domains most universally relevant to the broad student population in the context of understanding their barriers and facilitators to PA. It is possible that less frequently reported barriers and facilitators, which may not be as prominently featured in the results, could be relevant to specific groups of students, such as those identified as equity-deserving.

Lastly, a quality appraisal of the included studies was not undertaken. This decision was informed by the aim of the review, which was to describe and synthesise the literature to subsequently map data to the TDF and COM-B rather than assess the effectiveness of interventions or determine the strength of evidence. However, this decision, combined with dual screening 25% of the studies and excluding unpublished studies and grey literature, may introduce sources of error and bias, which should be considered when interpreting the results presented.

PA is an effective, scalable, and empowering means of enhancing physical, mental, and cognitive health. This approach could help students reach their academic potential and cope with the many stressors that accompany student life, in addition to setting a strong foundation for healthy exercise habits for a lifetime. As such, understanding the barriers and facilitators to an active student lifestyle is beneficial. This systematic review applied the TDF and COM-B model to identify and map students’ barriers and facilitators to PA and, in doing so, provides a pragmatic, theory-informed, and evidence-based foundation for designing future context-specific PA interventions. The findings from this review highlight the importance of developing PA interventions that focus on the TDF domains ‘environmental context and resources’, ‘social influences’, and ‘goals’, for which intervention approaches could involve environmental restructuring, education, and enablement. If successful, such strategies could make a significant contribution to improving the overall health and academic performance of university students.

Availability of data and materials

The review protocol is available on PROSPERO. The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study and materials used are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

The term ‘intervention’ was included to identify student barriers and facilitators to engaging in implemented physical activity interventions.

Physical exercise is defined as “a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive”, and purposefully focused on the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness, whereas physical activity is defined as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure” [ 96 ].


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The authors extend their gratitude to the funder, the nib foundation, for its financial support, which was instrumental in facilitating this research. We are also indebted to the Wilson Foundation and the David Winston Turner Endowment Fund for their generous philanthropic contributions, which have supported the BrainPark research team and facility where this research was conducted. Special thanks are owed to the library staff at Monash University for their expertise in conducting systematic reviews, which helped inform the selection of databases and the development of the search strategy.

This research was supported by nib foundation. The nib foundation had no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, and in writing the manuscript. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the nib foundation.

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CB, KR, BP, LA and RS developed the review protocol. CB and BP conducted the search and screened articles, and KR resolved conflicts. CB, KR, BP, LA and RS extracted the barriers and facilitators, mapped barriers and facilitators to the TDF and COM-B model, and interpreted the results. CB drafted the paper. All authors read, revised, and approved the submitted version.

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Physical activity compensates affective downsides of daily life aloneness

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Combining accelerometry, electronic diaries and neuroimaging, we found that physical activity is reproducibly linked to better wellbeing in people lacking social contact in everyday life, especially in people at neural and psychological risk of affective disorders.

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Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T. & Stephenson, D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 10 , 227–237 (2015). This meta-analytic review establishes an overall magnitude of loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality.

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    The Indian physical activities such as Chariot races, riding elephants and horses, swordsmanship, wrestling, boxing, kabaddi, kho-kho, atyapatya, dancing, dands, baithak, malkhamb, leziem, lathi, etc. have been in practice from time immemorial.

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    The good news is that even small amounts of physical activity can immediately reduce symptoms of anxiety in adults and older adults. Depression has also shown to be responsive to physical activity. Research suggests that increased physical activity, of any kind, can improve depression symptoms experienced by people across the lifespan.

  5. Benefits of Physical Activity

    Benefits of Physical Activity. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Adults who sit less and do any amount of ...

  6. The Benefits of Physical Activity

    Physical activities facilitate the burning of extra body fats, which accumulate in the body overtime. Therefore, regular engagement in physical activities is the most sustainable way of managing weight loss.

  7. Why is physical activity so important for health and well-being?

    Home Healthy Living Fitness Fitness Basics Why is physical activity so important for health and well-being? Why is physical activity so important for health and well-being? We know that staying active is one of the best ways to keep our bodies healthy. But did you know it can also improve your overall well-being and quality of life?

  8. Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity

    Why is physical activity important? Emotional benefits of exercise Why is physical activity important? Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, studies show that "taking it easy" is risky.

  9. Essay on Physical Activity

    100 Words Essay on Physical Activity What is Physical Activity? Physical activity means moving your body to use up energy. It includes playing sports, running, dancing, and even walking. When you move more, your body can stay healthy and strong. Types of Physical Activity There are many kinds of physical activities. Some are fun, like playing tag.

  10. Physical Activity and Sports—Real Health Benefits: A Review with

    Physical activity and exercise have significant positive effects in preventing or alleviating mental illness, including depressive symptoms and anxiety- or stress-related disease. In conclusion, sports can be evolving, if personal capacities, social situation, and biological and psychological maturation are taken into account.

  11. Physical Exercises and Their Health Benefits Essay

    Exercises that include physical activities are very essential to both body and mental health of human beings. In fact this is one of the areas where many studies have been conducted by scholars from different parts of the world to show that exercise is essential to all people regardless of their age, sex and occupation.

  12. Importance of Physical Fitness

    Furthermore, an activity also helps in reducing depression and insomnia by enhancing sleeping routines. Also, such activity is known to produce positive vibes inside a person which in turn increases the person's confidence. ... This essay, "Importance of Physical Fitness" is published exclusively on IvyPanda's free essay examples database. ...

  13. Physical Activity Essay

    PHYSICAL ACTIVITY (10 PTS) 1. On the average, how much do you exercise per week (above and beyond your normal daily activity of sleeping, house chores, showering, etc.)? I exercise once a week for 30 to 45 minutes. What kind of exercise do you do? I walk around the park or around my neighborhood.

  14. Physical Exercise and Mental Health, Essay Example

    Therefore, if mental health relates to a person's self-esteem, emotional equilibrium, physical exercise is then a major source of mental health maintenance. For example, factors responsible for depression include low self-esteem, obesity, anxiety and stress. Research shows where endorphins are produced when people engage in physical activities.

  15. Essay on Physical Fitness

    And if you're also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic. Let's take a look… 100 Words Essay on Physical Fitness What is Physical Fitness? Physical fitness is about having a body that can do many activities without getting too tired. It means your heart, muscles, and bones are strong.

  16. Physical activity

    1)Physical activity is any body movement that requires you to expend energy to perform said activity. 2) a) Sedentary behaviour is the opposite of physical activity: behaviours that only requires a low amount of energy. Examples: • Sitting down on the couch • Lying down on your bed

  17. Essay About Physical Activity

    Exercise Science, or physical activity, is described as the scientific examination of exercise. Physical activity (bodily movement) can range from anything to walking, dancing, or even cleaning. Statistics show that the more the body is inactive, the less healthy a person is going to be.

  18. Role of Physical Activity on Mental Health and Well-Being: A Review

    Mechanical stress and repeated exposure to gravitational forces created by frequent physical exercise increase a variety of characteristics, including physical strength, endurance, bone mineral density, and neuromusculoskeletal fitness, all of which contribute to a functional and independent existence.

  19. Physical activity and cognitive health

    As briefly mentioned previously, cognitively, the physical activity creates a structure in a person's life. The individual is looking forward to the exercise. There is a change in plans, adjustment of the schedule, which forces a person to think about the future activity. The state after the exercise is another level of reward and relief.

  20. Physical Activity, Fitness, and Physical Education: Effects on Academic

    NCBI Bookshelf is a free online resource that provides access to books and documents on biomedical and health topics. You can browse, search, and read the full text of books from various disciplines, such as physical activity and sedentary behaviour in university students, physical fitness and health outcomes, and more. NCBI Bookshelf also links to related articles and databases in PubMed and PMC.

  21. Essay Examples on Physical Exercise

    Physical Activity on Blood Pressure Levels in Adults. 1 page / 363 words. High blood pressure is a significant health concern affecting adults worldwide. This quantitative essay employs a research investigation approach to examine the effects of physical activity on blood pressure levels in adults. Through rigorous data collection and ...

  22. Physical Activity

    Physical activity refers to any movement that gets your body moving, such as walking, running, swimming, biking or dancing. It is essential for maintaining good health and well-being, and can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

  23. Importance of Physical Activity Essay

    Introduction. Physical activity is an important determinant of health. Its fundamental role in energy balance and weight control and in decreasing the risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, and depression is widely known. But in this fast paced life, people hardly incorporate physical ...

  24. Key influences on university students' physical activity: a systematic

    Physical activity is important for all aspects of health, yet most university students are not active enough to reap these benefits. Understanding the factors that influence physical activity in the context of behaviour change theory is valuable to inform the development of effective evidence-based interventions to increase university students' physical activity.

  25. Physical activity compensates affective downsides of daily life

    a, Physical activity as a moderator of the momentary within-individual effect of aloneness on affective valence (study 1, study 2).b, Trait-level associations of people with small social networks ...