As adults, we know that exercise makes us feel good; in addition, a Dutch research team has shown that exercise can help children to learn better. It seems that physical activity can reinforce memory-based tasks such as maths and spelling, boosting scores across the board.
The effect of physical exercise on academic performance has previously been measured; however, this was the first time activity was integrated directly into the classroom. Researchers believe that exercise can and should become a part of classroom activity to significantly impact future academic results.
The testing took place over two years and used simple physical exercise to reinforce learning skills; for example, children would do a number of jumps to solve maths problems. After two years, the difference was huge in terms of comprehension-based maths tests and spelling; in fact, the impact was so dramatic that researchers equated it to four months of extra learning.
Why is exercise so effective as a learning tool? It may be simply that exercise makes the brain function better; alternatively, it may be that the brain and body work together most effectively on tasks that require memorisation and repetition, such as spelling and times tables. There is no doubt that physical activity improves the novelty value of a lesson, meaning that children are more engaged from the outset.
Taking it outdoors
Of course, physical activity does not have to be confined to jumping jacks in the classroom. Schools are increasingly reaping the benefits of taking learning outdoors with play equipment that develops not only memory and repetition but also problem solving skills. Install wooden climbing frames and you will notice an increase in cooperation and communication. There are A range of childrens climbing frames available online that can be used to help integrate learning, fun and physical activity so that children get the best out of the learning experience.
Outdoor learning is already proven to increase test scores and to help deal with behavioural problems. Combined with physical exercise, it can decrease stress levels and is actively beneficial for pupils with ADHD. Let children scramble over wooden climbing frames and you will also boost their self-reliance and self-confidence, which can motivate them to achieve more than they realise.
It could not be easier to incorporate physical exercise into academic learning.