Look for opportunities to help students move throughout the school day.
There is a lot of strong evidence to support the brain–body connection when it comes to movement. In addition to promoting physical health, getting children and youth to move and be active throughout the day – even in short doses – promotes learning and mental health! In order to help children want to be physically active, it's important to make the activities FUN!
Physical activity and learning: Short, classroom-based physical activity breaks have been shown to increase attention and on-task behavior.1,2 A majority of studies have found a positive association between physical activity breaks and cognitive skills, attitudes, and academic behavior.3,4 In addition to embedding movement in the classroom, make sure that students have opportunities to participate in physical education and engage in enjoyable active play during recess and after-school.
Physical activity and mental health: Physical activity and exercise have both short-term and long-term effects on mental health.5,6 Usually within five minute s of moderate exercise such as walking, there is positive effect on mood. In addition to helping people feel good emotionally, moderate-intensity exercise on a regular basis can help to reduce and prevent anxiety and depression.7
1 Janssen, M., Chinapaw, M. J. M., Rouh, S. P., Toussaint, H. M., van Mechelen, W., & Verhagen, E. A. L. M. (2014). A short physical activity break from cognitive tasks increases selective attention in primary school children aged 10-11. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 7, 129-134.
2 Kibbe, D. L., et al. (2011). Ten years of TAKE 10®: Integrating physical activity with academic concepts in elementary school classrooms. Preventive Medicine, 52, 543-550. See www.take10.net
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). The Association Between School Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/pa-pe_paper.pdf
4 Howie, E. K., Beets, M. W., & Pate, R. R. (2014). Acute classroom exercise breaks improve on-task behavior in 4th and 5th grade students: A dose – response. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 7, 65-71.
5 Weir, K. (2011). The exercise effect. Monitor on Psychology, 42(11), p. 48. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx.
6 Peluso, M. A., & Andrade, L. H. (2005). Physical activity and mental health: The association between exercise and mood. Clinics, 60, 61-70.
7 Otto, M. W., & Smits, J. A. (2011). Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-being. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-979100-2.
Website: Actions for Happiness - 'Take care of your body' at http://www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys-to-happier-living/take-care-of-your-body