The Benefits of Physical Activity in Schools

Jogging Walking Track

Most classrooms have impulsive children.   Some classes have more than one impulsive child. These children are frequently in trouble and display sincere regret for their actions… repeatedly. I wondered, “Will they ever learn?”

A new study suggests that a simple solution for the impulsive child is physical activity. Published in the Obesity Reviews, researchers identified that the brain controls inhibitory control which regulates impulsive behavior. Their research also found a link between neurocognitive functions relating to eating behaviors and exercise. In other words, physical activity in school has a positive influence on impulsive eating and actions.

In light of these findings, physical activity has two benefits schools should be interested in childhood obesity intervention, as well as, a calming effect on impulsive children.

Physical Activity is like Medicine, according to SPARK author, John Ratey, MD we should “think of exercise as medicine.”

We know that exercise helps with executive functions like sequencing, memory, and prioritizing which contribute to necessary skills for success in school and life. Put simply, physical activity in school primes the brain for learning.

Another familiar refrain from some students is “why try? I already know I can’t do it.” The defeatist attitude or inability to push past previous failures is prevalent in far too many students.

Physical activity in school is a remedy for that too. Physical activity produces endorphins (chemicals in the brain) that regulate mood, pleasure, and pain. An elevated mood can contribute to an “I can do it” attitude which goes a long way as students approach new tasks as challenges, not obstacles.

Peaceful Playgrounds is a Popular School Recess Program.