In the article “How Physical Fitness May Promote School Success
Children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than children who are out of shape, a new study finds, raising timely questions about the wisdom of slashing physical education programs at schools.
Parents and exercise scientists (who, not infrequently, are the same people) have known for a long time that physical activity helps young people to settle and pay attention in school or at home, with salutary effects on academic performance. A representative study, presented in May at the American College of Sports Medicine, found that fourth- and fifth-grade students who ran around and otherwise exercised vigorously for at least 10 minutes before a math test scored higher than children who had sat quietly before the exam.
More generally, in a large-scale study of almost 12,000 Nebraska schoolchildren published in August in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers compiled each child’s physical fitness, as measured by a timed run, body mass index and academic achievement in English and math, based on the state’s standardized test scores. Better fitness proved to be linked to significantly higher achievement scores, while, interestingly, body size had almost no role. Students who were overweight but relatively fit had higher test scores than lighter, less-fit children.
*Students:* Tell us …
– How often do you take physical education classes in your school? Do you exercise regularly during gym class? Was your experience similar when you were younger? – Do you think gym classes help students perform better in all their subjects? Has gym class helped you do better in school? – Do the general findings in the studies discussed in the article mesh with your own personal experience — that doing physical activity helps your brain perform better?