Increased engagement in physical activity is directly associated with increased brain function. Engaging in physical activity increases specific processes in the body such as angiogenesis in parts of the brain (Flöel et al., 2010). Engagement in physical activity is associated with increased oxygen saturation in the brain. As an individual engages in physical activity, they increase the number of capillaries that transport blood to various parts of the brain ( McArdle et al, 2010 ). The amount of blood present in the brain increase the cognitive abilities of an individual in the process making an individual better in performing various cognitive tasks. Engagement in physical activity is also associated with increased activity of specific neurotransmitters including serotonin and norepinephrine. Various studies indicate the importance of physical activity in stimulating the release of specific neurotransmitter and neurotrophins ((Davis et al., 2011: Flöel et al., 2010). These neurotransmitters are responsible for short and long-term moods among students which are critical for the academic success of a student ( Knubben et al., 2007). Exercise increases or accelerates long-term retention of learned material. Physical activity is also indicated to regulate synaptic plasticity, learning, and hippocampal neurogenesis ( Christie et al ., 2008). Lastly, exercise improves the learning process through a process referred to plasticity. Each activity an individual engages in provides clues on how the brain cells are connected to each other. According to Davis et al, increased engagement in exercise benefits the executive function and results in increased performance in specific subjects such as mathematics (Davis et al., 2011). It is necessary to mention that engagement in physical activity resulted in an increased academic performance in both males and females. Females show higher GPAs when they engage in physical activity for less than 30 minutes in a day as compared to males who carry out the
same physical activity regimen for the same time (Hylok, 2011). However, when the frequency in which an individual engages in physical activity is increased females showed low GPA while males students showed higher GPAs. After 90 minutes males showed higher GPA levels compared to females even after 150 minutes of daily engagement in physical activity (Hylok, 2011). For this reason, physical activity might have a better positive effect on males as compared to females.
Engagement in physical activity is also associated with increased levels of fitness among many students as well as other key psychological factors associated with increased academic performance. In essence, some of the key contributing factors to achieving academic success includes concentration and attention to specific issues being taught within the school setting and the surrounding environment (Van Klaveren & De Wolf, 2013). Students who actively engage in physical exercise are indicated to have higher levels self-esteem as compared to the latter. Self esteem remains a critical element in the academic success of any child in any environment. Physical activity has been indicated to reduce specific aspects psychological aspects such as stress, depression, and anxiety among children, which create a limiting environment for a good performance of students (Richardson, Abraham, & Bond, 2012). Physical education classes in school settings may help improve the attitudes of children towards school. In due time, engagement in physical activity may change the psychological benefits associated with physical activity to incorporate other elements including sportsmanship as well as moral reasoning (Richardson et al., 2012). Physical education also brings together students improving their interaction and communication.
Healthy and physically fit children are more likely to engage in different areas of development without any limitation. These factor have either a direct or indirect effect on the academic performance of students across diverse settings (Nunlist, 2013). Physical fit students are indicated to have increased cognitive function, high self-esteem levels and increased interaction with teachers which is more likely to be associated with positive academic outcomes as all the necessary structures are in place(Parker, 2016).. In addition, the surrounding environment provides support for the achievement of specific goals.