Research Thursday - Do short bursts of physical activity in the classroom improve children's executive functioning?

    

It's Research Thursday! 

There is alot of talk about incorporating physical activity or "brain breaks" into the classroom, but what does the research say?

In this study, the effects of classroom-based, teacher-delivered, physical activity breaks on executive functioning in 11-14-year-old children was investigated. Participants in the experimental group took part in 5-10-min, or 20-min of physical activity; whereas the control group completed sedentary classroom mental math work at their desks. 

Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking and self control. 

The researchers found that executive function scores improved across all executive functioning assessments following the physical activity breaks when compared to sedentary classroom work regardless of dose and type. Participants also reported more positive mood states, higher motivation and higher self-efficacy following the physical activity.

What does this mean? 

This provides evidence for the acute effects of short (i.e., 5-20 minute) classroom-based physical activity breaks on executive functioning and psychological states in children. 

Take Home Message: 

Educators should incorporate multiple short physical activity bursts of 5 to 10 minutes into the classroom everyday. 

This will lead to more positive moods, increased motivation and higher levels of self-esteem. 

Physial activities can be as simple as asking the children to add up two numbers (e.g., 5+8) and do that many star jumps, or a game of beans or animal walks.