Combining physical activity with classroom lessons improves students' academic achievement, revealed in a research work.
The study 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.
Researchers Kathryn L. King and Carly J. Scahill, pediatric residents at the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital, led by William S. Randazzo, and James T. McElligott, sought to determine how implementing a daily physical activity program that incorporated classroom lessons would affect student achievement.
First- through sixth-graders at an academically low-scoring elementary school in Charleston, S.C., took part in the program 40 minutes a day, five days a week. Prior to initiation of the program, students spent 40 minutes per week in physical education classes.
Results showed that the time spent out of a traditional classroom in order to increase physical education did not hurt students' academic achievement. In fact, student test scores improved.
Specifically, the percentage of students reaching their goal on the state tests increased from 55 percent before the program was initiated to 68.5 percent after the program was initiated.
"These data indicate that when carefully designed physical education programs are put into place, children's academic achievement does not suffer," said King.
"More studies are needed," Scahill added, "but there is growing substantial evidence that this kind of physical activity may help improve academic behavior, cognitive skills and attitudes."
The research has been presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver.