Exercise in Class to Maximize Learning

Exercise in Class to Maximize Learning

Ryan Fitzpatrick played sports from a very young age, but before becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL (he’s the first QB to throw four touchdowns in a game for four teams), he earned an economics degree from Dr. Oz’s alma mater, Harvard. (Mehmet played for the Harvard Crimson, but opted for a career in heart surgery!)

So does playing sports help you end up at an Ivy League school? Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch, but we do know that schoolkids who have regular recess and are allowed to move around at designated times do better in school. And now it seems that move-it-to-learn-it is even more powerful than we realized. An interesting study out of the Netherlands found that exercise built into spelling or math lessons has big benefits too.

Teachers had second and third graders get kinetic about learning: For example, kids jumped in place eight times to solve the multiplication problem 4x2. After two years the kids who moved around WHILE doing math lessons had gained the equivalent of four months’ extra learning compared to math students who didn’t exercise in class. Same was true with a spelling group.

Researchers believe that learning while the brain AND body are engaged and working together results in better academic achievement and could be a promising new way of teaching. So try to add physical activity to your kid’s problem sets -- like, “How many is 3x2 plates removed from the dinner table?” You’ll get smart kids and clean dishes!

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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