How does physical activity in class improve a child's learning?

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Super Movers: Super Size experiment

During the Super Movers Super-Size Experiment, where primary pupils have been tested on their learning capabilities, 77% of schools have seen an improvement in brain speed after exercise.

The news comes after an earlier UK study revealed that only one in six children were active for the recommended 60 minutes a day.

Super Movers, a partnership between the BBC and the Premier League, aims to tackle this and get primary school children up and moving in class with their Brain Booster and Just for Fun videos.

To understand just how effective this can be on a child's classroom performance they launched the Super-Size Experiment. 17 primary schools up and down the country took part, resulting in over a thousand students taking cognitive tests to measure their brain speed and memory.

At each school a class would take the tests, before being split into two groups. One group continued solving maths problems at their desks, while the other group had a 50 minute physical activity session which involved circuit-style training and moving along to Super Movers videos. Both groups then completed a second test and any differences, along with factors such as mood, were noted.

The Results

Students take part in the Super-Size Experiment test.

The results are clear, 77% of schools saw an improvement in the brain speed of pupils in the group taking part in sessions including exercise and activity. This improvement was up to 19% higher than their previous scores.

Brain speed, defined in this case as the ability to process information and apply it to tasks, is crucial for concentration and learning in the classroom.

The experiment also found that exercise clearly improved the mood of both boys and girls, while those who continued to do traditional, seated maths saw a decrease in mood. In boys this improvement in mood resulted in better brain speed and memory.

In Operation Ouch's broadcast of one of the Super-Size Experiments, Dr Chris and Dr Xand explained:

"Exercise boosts your learning abilities, because when you're active your heart pumps faster and faster. This sends more blood to you brain.

"Blood is packed with useful nutrients and oxygen molecules, so more blood means more molecules to help you think quicker!"

Professor Eef Hogervorst, Professor of Biological Psychology at Loughborough University and lead academic on the experiment, added:

"The nationwide experiment has yielded some really encouraging results and shows that with less than an hour of enjoyable physical exercise in a day, we can see some real improvements to children's learning.

"It has long been established that exercise can boost brain function, but to see such significant results across the board confirms that fun exercise, like the Super Movers resources, can make a real difference."

Super Movers aims to get children moving throughout the day with lots of free, easy-to-use video resources and great football-inspired incentives like a visit from the Premier League Trophy. Brain Booster routines star famous faces and cover key areas of Numeracy and Literacy. They can be used in the classroom or at home to help children feel refreshed and energised whilst learning. The Just for Fun routines help get the whole family active together. Why not have a go?