- Charles Sturt physical education academic’s new book explores link between health and education performance across all stages of life
- Book showcases the many contexts in which impacts on learning occur that influence health across life stages
- Release of book is timely given COVID-19 pandemic highlights links between health and educational performance
A Charles Sturt University academic from Albury-Wodonga has co-published a new book that explores the lifelong connections between health and educational performance.
The book, Health and Education Interdependence, is co-authored by Senior Lecturer in Personal, Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) in the Charles Sturt School of Education Dr Brendon Hyndman, and Professor Richard Midford, Dr Georgie Nutton, and Professor Sven Silburn.
New research in the book, which includes contributions from 29 discipline experts from around the world, highlights the links between health and education performance across all stages of life.
According to Dr Hyndman (pictured), the book offers new insight in this area, as research into health performance and education performance has traditionally been investigated separately.
He said the release of the book is very timely given the vast health and education impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students globally.
“The book delves into the key classroom essentials that are needed to build skills for students to problem-solve and think their way through real-life health situations to prevent ill health,” Dr Hyndman said.
“But the book also uncovers the vast amount of influences on learning outside of these contexts.
“It showcases the many educational influences that occur beyond scheduled classes and how these broader influences impact on a person’s ability to make positive health decisions across all of life’s stages.”
One of Dr Hyndman’s contributions to the book included leading a chapter on the relationship between physical activity and learning. His research was conducted with assistance from Charles Sturt’s Dr Matt Winslade, and Dr Bradley Wright.
“Until recently, children’s bodies and minds were often divided as separate entities when it comes to learning, so educating in, through and about movement has been less valued,” Dr Hyndman said.
“However, there is an increasingly convincing body of literature endorsing the link between physical activity and a range of benefits to cognitive, psychological, academic and educational outcomes.
“Physical activity is an area of health most of us are familiar with, and this research showcases how increasing our movement habits can improve brain cell growth, functioning and overall mental performance.
“There is emerging evidence over the past two decades that links movement with improved academic outcomes in children, on memory, problem-solving, planning and self-regulation.”
Dr Hyndman said this chapter on physical activity participation highlights how a large number of studies demonstrate the importance of quality activity experiences from a young age.
“We know that research continues to find that habits and behaviours formed early in life will continue into later stages of the lifespan,” he said.
“Yet unless we experience enjoyable physical activity experiences early in life, the research suggests adults are less likely to develop and adopt regular physical activity habits.
“It is because of this that it is important children have many different opportunities to learn how to be active.
“This can include developing activity habits via before-school programs, recess strategies, after-school programs, excursions or camps, actively travelling to school, and in the home and neighbourhood.”
According to Dr Hyndman, the research highlights the need to consider how people learn across many contexts and influences, which occur beyond timetabled classroom-based learning.
“Positive learning strategies that encourage students to learn to be active can be prioritised beyond timetabled classes and curriculum demands,” Dr Hyndman said.
“The recent formation of the Global Recess Alliance, which advocates for schools to prioritise recess as they reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, shines an important light on this need.”
The newly published book also provides key insights into the learning considerations associated with how parents and teachers can positively impact health outcomes, including how parenting behaviours influence the expression of genes.
The 2003 Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, wrote the book’s foreword, which recommended policy makers be guided by the research and endorsed how the book aligned with 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of promoting wellbeing at all ages and ensuring access to quality education.