As well as the obvious health benefits shown opposite, evidence also shows that exercise can improve a pupil’s ability to focus and studies suggest that physical exercise yields short and long-term benefits on achievement in the classroom. Some evidence listed below;
(Ardoy et al 2014) - 67 pupils were assigned to receive 4 sessions per week of high-intensity Physical Education. After 4 months, these pupils performed better than other pupils on tests of cognitive ability and earned higher grades at school.
Pupils who ordinarily performed poorly on attention tasks, improved their accuracy when tested shortly after moderate acute exercise - 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill (Drollette et al 2014).
So evidence shows that exercise can improve a child’s ability to focus, but does that translate into better academic performance?
One experiment found that a 20-minute session of walking boosted pupils’ subsequent performance on tests of reading, spelling, and mathematics (Hillman et al 2009).
Another study found that pupils who exercised 10-20 minutes, prior to a maths test, out-performed pupils in a sedentary control group (Howie et al 2015).
What about behaviour and mental well being?
When researchers tested the effects of short-term exercise on pupils diagnosed with ADHD, they found that aerobic activity gave these pupils a special boost, altering their brain activity in ways that might enhance self-discipline (Pontifex et al 2013).
One randomised, controlled study of overweight pupils found that 40 minutes a day of aerobic exercise improved executive function, that aspect of intelligence that helps us pay attention, plan, and resist distractions (Davis et al 2007).
Long term benefits - Regular physical activity delivers a lot of long term health care benefits that will follow the child through the rest of the life;