Physical activity improves attainment, UCL study finds

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has concluded physical activity during lessons improves’ attainment

Children who do exercise during class do better at tests than sedentary peers, a UCL study has found.

The meta-analysis of 42 worldwide studies, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has concluded physical activity during academic lessons improves students’ attainment.

Movement like star jumps or running on the spot have a “large, significant effect on education outcomes during the lesson, assessed through tests or by observing pupils’ attention to a given task”, the researchers concluded.

Our study shows that physically active lessons are a useful addition to the curriculum. They can create a memorable learning experience, helping children to learn more effectively

Lead author Dr Emma Norris, UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, said: “Physical activity is good for children’s health, and the biggest contributor of sedentary time in children’s lives is the seven or eight hours a day they spend in classrooms.

“Our study shows that physically active lessons are a useful addition to the curriculum. They can create a memorable learning experience, helping children to learn more effectively.”

Researchers looked at data from 12,663 students aged between three and 14. Nearly half of the studies took place in the United States, with seven conducted in Australia, five in the UK and four in the Netherlands.

In one Dutch study, primary school children who took part in physically active lessons three times a week over two years made significantly better progress in spelling and mathematics than their peers – equating to four months of extra learning.


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