University of Groningen researcher Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma discovered that kids are able to improve their learning of language and math skills when they exercise. Her research studied the effects of the Fit & Proficient program, which integrates physical exercise in regular school classes. The results? After two years, the school kids participating had an overall lead of four months in both math and language apprehension.
Sitting quietly while paying close attention to the teacher. This would be the standard situation for the majority of schools in the Netherlands. But the classes participating in the Fit & Proficient program look more like a gym class. During math classes, kids are stretching and jumping up and down. Marijke Mullender-WIjnsma studied the effectiveness of learning while exercising, comparing 500 children from 12 different schools.
Movement and your brain
“Cognitive research shows that if kids exercise, chemicals are released in their brains and exercise also improves blood flow”, Mullender-Wijsma explains. “And because of these new changes in the brain, permanent changes can also take place, like the production of new brain cells and improved connections between them. In turn, that can lead to cognitive improvement.”
Nothing but plusses
It seems exercise makes you smarter, which is something this research shows too. Kids participating in the program performed better in language and math compared to the control group (kids who participated in traditional classes). After two years, these kids had a lead in math and language performance of up to four months. Another big plus of the program: after exercises, children were more focused and task oriented during the following classes.