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More Exercise, Higher Grades

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In her story this week, Education Week's Debra Viadero says that research is drawing an increasingly strong link between exercise and academic performance. Here's an excerpt:

"There’s sort of no question about it now," said Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "The exercise itself doesn’t make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position for them to learn."

This has significant implications for schools that, finding themselves in a time-crunch, have cut down on the amount of time allotted for physical education during school. Considering how long kids spend watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the net each day, P.E. could conceivably be the only hour they spend being physically active.

In light of this research and--perhaps more importantly--rising childhood obesity rates, it seems that some states are beginning to understand the value of P.E. This AP story describes legislation in Oklahoma that would increase the amount of required physical fitness activities in elementary and middle schools, and over the past few months, I've read several stories about similar efforts across the country.

I notice, as I'm sure many of you do, that I am less stressed, more attentive, and more alert when I can find the time to exercise than when I'm stuck at my desk, staring at a computer screen all day. It's good to see those personal observations backed up by scientific research.

4 Comments

"I am less stressed, more attentive, and more alert when I can find the time to exercise than when I'm stuck at my desk"

Same here.

It is a shame they have to conduct research to arrive at a conclusion that is so patently obvious.

I remember reacting, years ago, when the research came out that kids who don't eat breakfast (or lunch) don't do as well in school, that it was really sad that we had to have this kind of research to figure out that every kid needs to have enough to eat. But it did lead to the development of federally funded school breakfast and lunch programs (which benefit agriculture as well as kids).

Now this same thing to point out what any kindergarten teacher and most parent know, which is that you have to get up and move around from time to time or you end up with a bunch of wriggly-tired little bodies more interested in crawling across the floor than listening to the story.

Yet, we persist in making stupid decisions--in the name of academic achievement. To increase scores--cut out recess. It's embarrassing that my own district has made it possible for students to earn their only required phys ed credit in the 8th grade so that they can go through 4 years of high school without ever needing to get up out of a chair.

I think it is so important to get studets to exercise during the school. It is also true that students that exercise also have more energy throught the day. As a general rule they feel better about themselves. All of these things are positive to education.

who cares about grades!

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  • antwon: who cares about grades! read more
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