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Study: Exercise improves students' ability to learn


It is often difficult for students to focus in the classroom, but a new study suggests that exercise before school can help students be more productive.

According to the study published on Preventative Medicine Reports, children who participated in school-organized physical activity before class exhibited a higher level of "on-task behaviors." The same students were more likely to interrupt, make noise and stare into space on days without pre-class exercise.

The study was conducted by Arizona State University during the 2013-2014 school year and involved 77 students at two schools in grades 3 and 4. One of the schools was a high-achieving private school. The other was an averaging-performing public school.

Students participated in a five-week running and walking club two mornings each week. Pedometers were used to track the amount and intensity of physical activity. Pre-class sessions lasted 15 to 20 minutes. Students exercised at a moderate-to-vigorous level for at least five minutes.

The private school students were on-task for 61% of the time on non-exercise days and 77% on exercise days.

The public school students were on-task 63% of the time on non-exercise days and 78% on exercise days.

The conclusion of the study contains these statements:

"This study's findings provide support for the positive effect of before-school PA programs on students' on-task behavior. Although teachers and administrators may hesitate to increase PA programming during the school day, before-school programs take no time away from academic instruction time and can still have a positive impact on both students' on-task behavior during the first part of the school day and health."

This study's findings have implications about the structure of children's day and the school schedule. Typically, children have little to no time and/or opportunities to engage in PA before school, and most PA programs occur after school. School personnel may want to consider later start times and providing various PA opportunities in the morning. Scheduling changes need not be drastic; a 20-min or 30-min delay in the start of the school day may be enough to provide children with a satisfactory amount of PA that can improve their readiness to learn, at least within the first classroom period."


Exercise, school


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