Move: The Connection Between Physical Activity and Academic Performance

Physical activity in the classroom setting can be a strategic factor not only for health but also for boosting academic performance. Research consistently shows that incorporating movement into the school day can enhance concentration and memory and even foster new neural connections.

Skooli understands the importance of nurturing both the mind and body to ensure optimal learning outcomes for students, and we support educators in their quest to integrate these strategies into their curriculums.

The Science Behind Movement and Learning

Physical activity is known to increase blood flow to the brain, which is rich in oxygen and nutrients that improve brain function. Moreover, engaging in regular movement increases the production of neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which can improve mood and attention. When students are active, they’re not only building stronger bodies, but they’re also priming their brains for learning.

Moreover, physical activity is associated with higher levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of nerve cells. A brain enriched with BDNF is a brain that is ready to learn. These biological enhancements can translate into better academic results, including improved scores in mathematics and reading.

Movement and Memory

Learning isn’t just about absorbing new information; it’s also about retaining it. Movement has been found to boost memory by reinforcing existing neural connections and creating new pathways. Exercise, even something as simple as a walk, can lead to enhanced memory recall.

Physical Activity and Classroom Behavior

Incorporating movement into the school day can also lead to improvements in classroom behavior. Students often show improved attentiveness and decreased signs of disruptive behavior when physical activity is a consistent part of their routine. Teachers can expect to see a more engaged and focused classroom when students are given opportunities to move.

Strategies for Incorporating Movement Into Lessons

Skooli encourages teachers to explore various creative avenues for integrating physical activity into their classroom environments. Here are a few strategies that can be adapted to any age group or subject area:

  • Active Breaks: Simple breaks for stretching or brief physical exercises can re-energize students and get them ready to focus again. This could be as simple as having a two-minute stretch between lessons or a quick set of jumping jacks.
  • Action-Based Learning: Teachers can create lessons where learning is associated with movement. For instance, a history teacher might have students reenact a historical event, or a math teacher could incorporate a physical game to practice multiplication tables.
  • Incorporate Stability Balls: Using stability balls instead of chairs encourages students to balance, which quietly engages their muscles, helps them focus, and supports posture.
  • Outdoor Lessons: Whenever relevant, take the classroom outdoors. Whether it’s a science class observing nature or an art class seeking inspiration from the environment, being outside naturally encourages physical activity.
  • Tech-Assisted Physical Learning: Modern technology offers various apps and tools that encourage movement while learning. For example, geography apps that require students to move to locations within the classroom or use AR (augmented reality) to explore virtual landscapes can be highly engaging.

Joining Movement With Academic Content

Teachers can find innovative ways to tie educational content to physical activities. Math relay races, where students solve equations before running a lap, or vocabulary-building exercises where students perform a physical task associated with a new word can make learning physical and fun.

In language classes, acting out scenes or using charades to define new vocabulary words gets students out of their seats. In science, simulating molecular motion with physical movements can instantly make abstract concepts more tangible.

One of the great things about online tutoring with Skooli is that students have more flexibility to move around while learning.

Obviously, in a classroom, teachers can only allow so much activity.

However, when students use Skooli’s 1:1 tutoring sessions at home, they can stand, stretch, or move to help them focus and retain information without worrying about disturbing their classmates.

The link between physical activity and academic success is strong. As Christopher R. Madan and Anthony Singhal noted in their paper published in Frontiers in Psychology, “An important idea that has emerged in cognitive science is that the body influences the mind.” So it’s an opportune area for educators to leverage in their teaching practices.

As part of Skooli’s ongoing commitment to providing comprehensive educational solutions, we stand by educators in developing and implementing strategies that engage students physically as well as intellectually.

By weaving movement into the fabric of everyday learning, teachers can help students not only perform better academically but also foster a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Implementing these strategies can require some creativity and flexibility, but the potential benefits for student learning and well-being are well worth the effort.

Through collaboration and a shared commitment to well-rounded education, we can ensure that every student has the opportunity to thrive both in and out of the classroom.

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