Monday, April 4, 2011

Exercise boosts the ability of children (and mice) to learn

It's great to see students at Lakeview School beginning the day with physical exercise.  Every time I see children doing fitness circuits on the quad I think to myself that they are being given the optimal start to their day of learning.

There is no doubt in my view that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.  My belief is backed up by research that has shown:
  • Children's reading scores were significantly boosted when they performed a short dance exercise every day for six months (a New Zealand context for this could be Jump Jam).
  • Just five minutes jumping around at the beginning of the day results in improved concentration and more efficient learning of material.
  • The hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with long term memory) of mice that had access to a running wheel had twice the number of brain cells compared to those of mice that didn't have access to this piece of exercise equipment.
As I have stated in an earlier post on a similar theme, some teachers are of the opinion that there simply isn't time for exercise and physical education when there is so much other stuff that needs to be put into the daily programme.  My view, which is backed up by scientific evidence, is that we can't afford not to have regular physical exercise in the daily schedule if we want students to achieve to their potential.

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