Want Kids to do Better in School? Give Them Recess

Courtney Williams's picture
Thursday, January 5, 2012

Children who get more exercise also tend to do better in school, whether the exercise comes as recess, physical education classes or getting exercise on the way to school, according to an international study.

The findings, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, come as U.S. schools in general cut physical activity time in favor of more academic test preparation.

Amika Singh, who worked on the study, said the findings meant that schools should prioritize both academics and exercise and that families could have the same attitude at home.

"Maybe it's an activity break, stand up every half an hour in class and do something," said Singh, from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

"It might mean going to school by bike ... Any kind of physical activity you can think of. It doesn't mean only the physical education standard class."

Singh and her colleagues reviewed 14 studies that compared kids' physical activity with their grades or scores on math, language and general thinking and memory tests.

Those included two types of reports, such as 10 so-called "observational studies" in which researchers asked parents, teachers or students themselves how active they were, then followed them for a few months to a few years to track their academic performance.

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