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Importance of Combining Learning with Physical Activity

Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS

June 16, 2015

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Question

Why combine learning with physical activity in children?

Answer

Research indicates that integrating physical activity with academic concepts in the classroom has many benefits.  These benefits include being feasible to the teachers.  Teachers can easily incorporate physical activity into the academic concepts.  Another benefit of increasing physical activity with academic concepts in the classroom is that it helps students focus on learning.  It improves physical activity levels and help schools achieve their wellness policies. 

Participation in physical activity and higher levels of aerobic activity were associated with increased academic achievement in several different studies.  A meta-analysis done of 59 studies from 1947 to 2009 indicated that physical activity has a significant and positive effect on children's achievement in cognitive outcomes and these studies also indicated it had the greatest effect on aerobic exercise.  We are working here on incorporating movement with learning to increase both academic achievement and physical activity levels with aerobic exercise.  There is a growing body of evidence also that suggests an active lifestyle and higher levels of aerobic fitness are associated with superior academic achievement, cognitive abilities, brain structure and brain function.  We are looking at an ever-growing body of research that is supporting the link between movement and learning for both academic aptitude and for physical fitness.   


amy m schlessman

Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS

Amy is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy Program and a Center of Teaching Excellence Faculty Liaison at the University of Findlay. She is the Website Co-Chair and Zoom Committee Chair for the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy. Amy has been practicing as a school-based PT for over 18 years, focusing on health promotion and physical activity embedded into academics and interprofessional collaboration, while closely working with educators, administrators, therapists, and parents. Her research on pediatric health promotion was published in Pediatric Physical Therapy. Amy also published, “Recycle Bin Boogie: Move and Learn with Recyclables,” a physical activity book combining academic concepts with common household recyclables. She has presented regionally and nationally on a variety of topics related to health promotion, active learning, school-based therapy, and special education. 


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