Friday, February 11, 2011

Physical Fitness and Academic Performance and Improvement

There has been a fair amount of research and attention recently to the cognitive benefits of physical exercise, especially as it relates to reading comprehension, computational ability, and general focus and attention.

For instance, Regular exercise helped previously sedentary,overweight children to perform better on goal-oriented tasks and improved their mathematics ability, according to a recent study from the Georgia Prevention Institute at Georgia Health Sciences University.

Researchers used the Cognitive Assessment System and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III to analyze the effects of exercise on the students, and found that the students who received 40 minutes of exercise per day increased their intelligence scores by an average of 3.8 points. Students who exercised 20 minutes a day noticed a similar, smaller increase in their scores.

Given the results of this recent study as well as research from other universities, it may be a good time to reconsider the role of physical education in K-12 school settings.

Please watch this recent video (shown in February 2011) from PBS on physical activity and learning:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

The following description is a proposal some colleagues and I submitted to the National Science Foundation. For readers wanting more information about this work, please email me directly.

SUMMARY: Independent, parallel lines of research exist in the areas of embodied cognition, physical activity breaks and cognitive performance, and cerebral blood. This current study proposes a cross-disciplinary collaboration to create a transformational study that examines the effects of embodied activities on the visuospatial intelligence, a necessary skill for advanced study in STEM content. Specifically this research would quantify and qualify the effects of both acute and chronic engagement in such activities; thereby identifying the “dose” of visuospatial learning experiences that is most impactful. Findings from this work will guide educators and administrators in determining how best to utilize limited educational resources such as time and money. Furthering the movement to achieve scientific advancement through STEM innovations, this work takes a sequential, purposeful review of the effectiveness of embodied cognition as instructional practice. Through global dissemination of this content (i.e., presentations, peer reviewed publications, and involvement of the advisory board) this proposal has the potential to inform many educational decision makers.

Picture: Hoboken laundry