The Effect of Curriculum- and Classroom-based Physical Activity Breaks on Academic Performance in Elementary School Children in Southern New Mexico
Research has provided strong evidence for the many health benefits of exercise (e.g. decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, sleep apnea, falls). Despite the plethora of evidence, most Americans do not meet the Surgeon General’s recommendation of achieving 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (PA) per week. Compounding the problem for children is the fact that although most American kids are enrolled in school for 30 or more hours per week, making schools a prime location to teach modes of physically active health habits, schools have instead increasingly become places that promote sedentary behavior as greater emphasis has been put on standardized test scores. Advocacy for physical activity in schools must show that including PA programs do not hinder academic performance. The studies included in this review support the idea that PA breaks do not hamper learning, but instead improve it. The research on PA breaks throughout the school day shows significant academic benefits whether the intervention was enacted with only 10 children for one week or with 1500 children for three years. This review focuses specifically on the academic benefits of PA breaks in elementary school children, but similar results have been seen in older children. This review proposes that physical activity breaks which are curriculum-based and take place in the classroom increase academic achievement by (1) improving students’ cognitive function, (2) increasing students’ positive affect, (3) increasing student engagement, (4) being adaptable, easy to implement, and cost-effective, (5) improving school-based interpersonal relationships, and (6) supporting the success of disadvantaged students.
Elliss, Sephonnie, "The Effect of Curriculum- and Classroom-based Physical Activity Breaks on Academic Performance in Elementary School Children in Southern New Mexico" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27995982.