Exercise and Your LD Student

written by: Eagle Hill School
It is commonly understood that exercise can benefit us all. From cardiac to cognitive benefits, it is almost universally accepted that “working out” is good for us. This same logic applies to students and individuals who struggle with learning disabilities ranging from common disabilities to more involved learning profiles.

The Basics

Exercise has such profound effects on the human body because of the chemicals that it produces. Exercising stimulates the body to produce endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin—four of the main chemicals responsible for happiness. Beyond just happiness, these chemicals are also vital in maintaining normal levels of awareness and functioning in our everyday lives.

Studies show that even moderate exercise can make a noticeable difference in our mood and disposition, especially in people who don’t have a history of exercising regularly.

Why This Matters

For students and children who navigate the challenges of learning disabilities, exercise is even more important. The reason for this is simple—students with learning disabilities often experience a greater amount of anxiety, depression, and general unhappiness. This is a direct drain on the chemicals we talked about above (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin).

It’s no wonder, then, that massive measurable differences in the happiness levels of individuals with learning disabilities can be measured before and after exercising.

However, the effects may vary from person to person. For instance, a student who suffers from ADHD may notice a massive effect on their ability to concentrate, whereas a student with dyslexia will unlikely see exercise solve their issues with reading. What is proven, however, is the effect exercise can have on how a child copes and deals with their struggles.

Jump into Action

We know that exercise does wonders for body and mind, but like most things, it won’t be of much use if done only sporadically. For people with learning disabilities, committing to a schedule will be the most important factor in ensuring they benefit from exercising.
Anyone who hopes to benefit from the positive effects of regular exercise should do the following:
  • Create a schedule that can be maintained.
  • Figure out which days and what type of exercise is most productive and most reasonable (some people may find running to provide a bigger boost than weight lifting, and vice versa).
  • Consider complementing a new exercise routine with a change in diet…eating clean and healthy goes hand-in-hand with fitness.
  • Find a workout buddy…studies show that taking on a new exercise routine with a partner can greatly increase the odds of commitment and success by making the process more manageable.
Regardless of the type of exercise your child or student decides to undertake, what’s important to remember is regularity and commitment. Sometimes the effects of a great workout or run can be felt immediately, but these “highs” often fade. The real payoff will come from remaining dedicated and looking at the effects exercise has over a longer period of time.
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What is Learning Diversity About?

Learning Diversity is a blog hosted by Eagle Hill School where educators, students, and other members of the LD community regularly contribute posts and critical essays about learning and living in spaces that privilege the inevitability of human diversity.

The contributors of Learning Diversity come together to engage our readers from a variety of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences and mathematics, athletics, and residential life. Embracing learning diversity means understanding and respecting our students as whole persons.


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Eagle Hill School

An innovative approach to LD education in a classic New England boarding school environment, where diverse learners achieve success.