When schools minimise physical education lessons to allow students to spend more time in the classroom, they may be missing a golden opportunity to promote learning, according to new research.
The study by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital adds to growing evidence that exercise is good not only for the body but also the mind.
It also shows that physical education and academic instruction need not be mutually exclusive.
The researchers sought to determine how implementing a daily physical activity programme that incorporated classroom lessons would affect student achievement.
Pupils from an academically low-scoring primary school in South Carolina took part in the imaginative programme for 40 minutes a day and learned developmentally appropriate movement skills while basic academic skills were reinforced.
For example, Year One children traced shapes on the ground while sitting on scooters and hopped through ladders while naming colours on each rung.
Older pupils had access to exercise equipment with TV monitors such as a treadmill that played geography lessons as the student ran through the scene and a rock-climbing wall with numbers that changed as they climbed to help students work on math skills.
Results showed that the time spent out of a traditional classroom in order to increase physical education did not hurt students’ academic achievement and did in fact improve them.
Source: American Academy of Paediatrics