Exercising at school boosts test scores, study finds

When physical activity was combined with academic skills, elementary students retained more. In other words, exercising at school or while learning might improve kids’ test scores, a new study finds.

Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News: The researchers looked at students in grades 1 through 6 at an academically low-scoring school in Charleston, S.C., who took part in a program 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 program, students in grades 1 and 2 learned movement skills while basic academic skills were reinforced. For example, they hopped through ladders while naming colors on each rung.

Students in grades 3 to 6 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.

The researchers compared results from standardized tests taken by the students before and after the program, and found that the percentage of students who reached their goal on the state tests increased from 55 percent to 68.5 percent.

The findings show that carefully designed physical education programs 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.

One caution: the study was presented 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.

For more information, the Nemours Foundation has more about kids and exercise here. Or you can order a copy of my Amazon.com-best-selling book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. Signed copies are available here.

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