Exercising while learning might improve kids' test scores, a new study finds.
The researchers looked at students in grades one through six at an academically low-scoring school in the US who took part in a programme that incorporated physical activity and classroom lessons for 40 minutes a day, five days a week. Before the study, the students had 40 minutes of physical education classes a week.
As part of the programme, students in grades one and two learned movement skills while basic academic skills were reinforced. For example, they hopped through ladders while naming colours on each rung.
Students in grades three to six used exercise equipment with TV monitors. For example, a monitor on a treadmill would feature geography lessons while a student "ran" through the scene, the study authors explained.
Exercise and academic achievement
The researchers compared results from standardised tests taken by the students before and after the programme, and found that the percentage of students who reached their goal on the state tests increased from 55% to 68.5%.
The findings show that carefully designed physical education programmes can enhance students' academic achievement. The results add to growing evidence that exercise is good for the mind as well as the body, said the researchers, from the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital.
The study was slated for presentation at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Denver. Experts note that research presented at meetings isn't subjected to the same type of scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed journals.
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