Daily Exercise in Schools Increases Achievement

February 26, 2016


Exercise and Physical Education in schools? This long standing debate is not going away because of the decreasing times during the school day. We must reconsider how we structure our day. We can no longer expect children to go through a six hour day with a 20 minute recess. We can no longer have physical education classes two sessions a week and think this will be enough.


"A study of 10,000 third-graders throughout the United States found that about one-third
had less than 15 minutes of recess daily, with city-dwellers in low-SES families most likely to have no recess at all (Barros et al., 2009). Paradoxically, school exercise may actually improve academic achievement (Carlson et al., 2008). How could this be? A review of the research suggests several possible mechanisms that involve the brain, including direct benefits of increased blood flow and increased release of neurotransmitters, as well as the indirect results of better mood and thus better ability to concentrate (Singh et al., 2012). The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children be active (e.g., not sit on the sidelines awaiting a turn) for at least half the duration of their physical education classes (Khan et al., 2009)" (Berger, 2014, p. 246).


Administrators must push themselves to modify schedules to include physical education every day. With the onset of obesity and declining test scores, we can’t lose. Give me a district with increased physical education, I will give you a district with higher achievement and more prepared children. I challenge both parents and educators to reevaluate our systems so our children can be afforded a healthy body and healthy brain.






Barros, Romina M., Silver, Ellen J., & Stein, Ruth E. K. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics,123, 431–436.


Berger, K. (2014). Invitation to the Life Span (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Worth Publisher.

Carlson, Susan A., Fulton, Janet E., Lee, Sarah M., Maynard, L. Michele, Brown, David R., Kohl, Harold

W., III, & Dietz, William H. (2008). Physical education and academic achievement in elementary school: Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 721–727


Kahn, Joan R., McGill, Brittany S., & Bianchi, Suzanne M. (2011). Help to family and friends: Are there gender differences at older ages? Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 77–92.


Singh, Amika, Uijtdewilligen, Leonie, Twisk, Jos W. R., van Mechelen, Willem, & Chinapaw, Mai J. M. (2012).

Physical activity and performance at school: A systematic review of the literature including a methodological quality assessment. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166, 49–55.

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