Move It! Active Kids Do Better In School
Once again, scientific research has proven what common sense has already dictated: Active kids fare better in school. That’s the conclusion of new research conducted in Sweden on more than 2,000 school children aged 12. The original hypothesis, that exercise stimulates learning and tracks with improved school performance, was carefully investigated. Some children were given two hours of extra play and activity time each week; about double what other students received. Other potential factors, such as gender, family socioeconomic status, parental education levels, and ethnicity, were all controlled for. Ultimately, the more active kids performed better in school than their more sedentary peers.
"You can express it that two hours of extra physical education each week doubled the odds that a pupil achieves the national learning goals. We did not see a corresponding improvement in the control schools, where the pupils did not receive extra physical activity—rather the contrary, a deterioration," said scientist and neurologist Thomas Linden at the Sahlgrenska Academy, which conducted the study.
"The results from the current study are in line with other studies in both animals and humans demonstrating links between physical activity and cognition. We have previously found a strong correlation between cardiovascular fitness, IQ and brain resilience in young adults. Interestingly, we now demonstrate a link between physical activity and school performance in young children adding to this exciting line of research," Professor Michael Nilsson said.
"Our hope is that planners and policy-makers will take our results into consideration," said Lina Bunketorp Käll the researcher and project leader of the study, in a press release. "It's being discussed whether more physical education in school would take time from academic subjectsand in this way weaken school performance,” added Thomas Lindén. “Our study shows that exactly the opposite may be the case.”
Lina B. Käll, Michael Nilsson, Thomas Lindén. The Impact of a Physical Activity Intervention Program on Academic Achievement in a Swedish Elementary School Setting. Journal of School Health, 2014; 84 (8): 473 DOI: 10.1111/josh.12179