Optimum health for sport and school performance

With exams around the corner, students should make sure they try to find a balance between nutrition, sport, and academics.

The biggest mistake parents can make is forcing their children to stop all sports and extramural activities in order to ‘focus on schoolwork’. The other mistake is for children to let the stress of performing well in sports override the importance of doing well in school. In reality, the one helps the other.

Multiple studies have shown that kids need to have breaks in between their learning schedules for optimal performance. And physical activity, like school sport in particular, has a positive influence on concentration, energy and stress levels, memory, classroom behaviour, and intellectual performance.

This doesn’t mean that your child needs to be out on the field for hours on end - even relatively short spans of physical activity helps increase the duration and intensity of concentration.

In a 2011 study named ‘Relationship between physical fitness and academic performance in South African children’ conducted by academics from the Education and Health faculties of North-West University, Potchefstroom, findings suggested a positive relationship between physical fitness components and academic achievement in a group of South African primary school children, with more significant correlations found among girls than boys, and among older boys and girls.

The research report states: “Based on these findings, as well as factors such as national pressure to increase academic achievement in South African schools, and the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity and physical inactivity in South African children, advocating the enhancement of physical fitness levels of children by means of maximum educator support and promotion of school physical exercise, is warranted."

HOW DO YOU FIND THE BALANCE?

Academics

Sit with your child to discuss and decide on a certain amount of study hours they need to put in each week to be able to keep up with school work and exams.

ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

Do some research on the various concentration and productivity techniques, with your child’s personality, learning method, and concentration span in mind. Your child might find something like the Pomodoro technique quite effective, where they can set a timer for 25 minutes for intense focus and learning and then take a break for ten minutes. And repeat. Let your child monitor their productivity and find something that suits their needs.

Sport

Encourage your child to choose at least one form of physical exercise such as tennis, running, rugby, cricket, or swimming.

Don’t let your child participate in too many sporting activities as that will drain them and might influence their academic performance.

Make use of the Zatsa mobile app which provides you as a parent with up-to-date information on your child's future school sport activities. This will help you and your child plan better for study hours and physical exercise times.

Nutrition

Read up on the super foods and brain foods that can enhance your child’s concentration, as well as their physical performance on the field. Remember that prioritising nutrition will protect your child from getting sick and fatigued.

Here is a list of top foods for optimum nutrition and performance:

  1. Bananas: Bananas are excellent for kids because they are so easy to digest, contain potassium and fibre, manganese, and vitamin C. This wonderful fruit will also help your child sleep better and assists with absorption and preservation of calcium in their body.

  2. Cranberries: High in anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin C, these berries will keep your child’s immune system strong for sport and school and all that comes with it.

  3. Guavas: Did you know that a guava contains almost four times the amount of vitamin C than an orange? It is also known as a superfruit and contains fibre, folic acid, potassium, copper, manganese and other vitamins.

  4. Pineapples: Apart from vitamin C, which supports the immune system, just one cup of pineapple can supply up to 76% of the daily recommended amount of manganese (a trace mineral which assists in generating energy and antioxidants).

  5. Spinach: Often associated with muscleman Popeye, spinach might not be a favourite for kids but is loaded with good stuff such as vitamin K - an essential bone building and strengthening molecule. There are various creative ways and recipes to ensure that your children get in enough greens without the ‘’yuk factor’’.

  6. Swiss Chard: Packed with dietary fibre, chard helps to regulate blood sugar levels during the digestive process - essential when it comes to children who try to balance life with academics and sport!

  7. Chia seeds: An ideal energy booster, these small seeds contain fibre, fat, protein and carbs, as well as Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids which assists in the stabilisation of blood sugar and slows the digestion of carbs.

  8. Goji Berries: This berry is magic when it comes to boosting brain cell counts. It’s vitamin A contents also supports the immune system and eyes - all of utmost importance for children’s school and sport performance.

Take a look at this article on managing exam stress for some more helpful tips. ( http://bit.ly/2pBlWlW )

About Zatsa

Zatsa provides South African schools, parents, and coaches with an easy-to-use platform to administrate and manage school sports events. It is the only locally available solution that enables two-way communication between schools and parents. Sign your school up today to download the beautifully-designed Zatsa mobile app which puts all the details of your children's sports events in the palm of your hand. With the simple click of a button, you can confirm or decline your child's participation, as well transportation requirements.

Resources:

  1. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHYSICAL FITNESS AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDREN
    (http://bit.ly/2r3HoRv)

  2. NutriBullet pocket nutritionist
    (http://bit.ly/2q6sEnk)

  3. Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance
    (http://bit.ly/2pCsoKb)