From, “Deskercise,” an NPR story last year on movement-based school lessons:
Students at Mitchell Elementary School in Charleston, S.C., don’t just write their multiplication tables. They jump them.
Innovations like this are part of the burgeoning movement to promote more action-based learning. Some studies suggest that incorporating physical movement into the classroom improves student focus and attention.
And just this week, Allison Aubrey produced another great story on how even walking at a 20 minute pace just a few times a week has dramatic effects on longevity and successful aging. From “How revving up your heart rate, even a bit, pays off‘”:
Changes in the brain during exercise could help explain the students’ improved behavior. There’s increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex during and just after exercise:
“They’re activating this prefrontal area,” says John Ratey, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “One of the jobs [of this part of the brain] is to inhibit the impulsivity coming up from the emotional part of the brain.”
This means kids may be more likely to think before they act.
Research in adults has shown exercise can boost blood flow, which can lead to improved focus and attention — not to mention a mood lift. Ratey says researchers are just beginning to nail down the benefits in children.
(Note: In addition to reading the text of each article, I highly recommend listening to the audio of each story.)
Here’s a brief promotional video for PE4Life. I’d rather students were outside and off of machines of any kind, instead engaging in natural and functional movement. But anything that gets people moving, especially youths in school and that promotes learning, is something I will endorse.