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Physical exercises in classrooms help students do better in exams

Posted October 22, 2019

Close your eyes for a second and imagine a classroom full of kids. What did you see? Everyone was quietly sitting down with their heads ploughed deep into textbooks, right? That is the usual image in schools around the world, but it wouldn’t hurt if kids started doing star jumps once in a while.

Staying put during exams is not the best strategy, even if doing jumping jacks may seem like an awkward idea. Image credit: KF via Wikimedia

This sounds like a bizarre crazy idea, but scientists from University College London and University of Sydney conducted a  meta-analysis of 42 studies, involving data from 12,663 students aged between three and 14, from around the world and found that students who take part in physical exercises during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning.

Kids need to move more – everyone knows that. But you can’t have too many physical education classes – math and literature is important as well. That is why many schools around the world are trying to integrate movement into other classes. For example, kids have to jump up and down to answer some math question or do some physical tasks to answer if the fact is true or false. Although these kind of teaching methods did make children move more, which is healthy, scientists were also interested if it had any impact on their academic performance.

Researchers found that physical activity during the lesson had a large, significant effect on educational outcomes. Senior author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis said: “Not all lessons need to be sedentary. Simple changes to classroom routines, like standing up to answer a question or running up to the board to write down an answer, could add up to overall schooltime physical activity and lead to improved academic performance”.

Doing physical tasks to answer questions is fun, but also helps children to remember the task better. Moving more is healthy, helps maintaining weight and a healthy heart. And it really is a lot of fun. For example, the study included a case where children simulated travelling the world by running on the spot in between answering questions relating to different countries. 

Exercising in class is not always possible. However, it is just a problem of the system. If you can incorporate some physical activities, you should. Not only they do not disturb the class, they help remembering the details and can even make students perform better on exams.


Source: The University of Sydney

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