Playtime Aids Classroom Success

Physical activity linked to improved academic results

(RxWiki News) Recent research highlights the importance of keeping physical education classes. The research shows physical activity enables children to perform better in class.

Educators often must decide whether they should replace physical activity with classes that might boost academic test scores.

Even with ample research, no one knows exactly how much exercise is needed to boost academic performance, says Amika Singh, Ph.D.

"Exercise often to improve both the body and brain."

To help educators decide, a Dutch team analyzed 14 quality studies among 472 scientific papers published in the last two decades. Researchers also have not proven why exercise helps, but they suspect it is because exercise can lessen stress, improve mood and increase blood flow to the brain.

Dr. Singh, a researcher in the public and occupational medicine department at the EMGO Institute in Amsterdam, Netherlands, lead a team that picked the 14 studies because each had two traits: Each study included at least one physical activity or fitness measurement during childhood or adolescence. They also measured at least one learning achievement.

Research methods in the 14 studies often had various problems. For instance, future research should include an objective way to measure physical activity in and out of school, Dr. Singh says.

Two high-quality studies convinced Dr. Singh's team to endorse the link between physical activity and school performance.

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Despite the studies' problems, they often had lots of information. The studies, mostly from the United States, included 53 to 12,000 children ages 6 to 18 years. Studies lasted eight weeks to more than five years.

Dr. Singh and colleagues recently published their review research in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Funding for the study came from various departments at Vrije Universiteit Medical Center and Vrije Universiteit.

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Review Date: 
January 4, 2012