We know that exercise is good for both body and mind for kids of all ages, and Mum Mums recently discussed new research that found that exercise may also be therapeutic. Exercise must be on the brains of researchers as well as a new study found that exercise may even lead to better grades in school.
Increased physical education in schools not only leads to better motor skills, but can also sharpen a student’s learning ability. This and several other findings are the result of the new Malmo University study in Sweden, finding significant differences in children who were given expanded teaching in physical education (PE) versus children who had regular instruction.
More than 200 children from the same school in southern Sweden were followed for 9 years starting in grades 1 through 3. The children were separated into 2 groups, one an intervention group receiving scheduled physical education 5 days per week including extra motor training; and the other was the control group.
Study author Ingegerd Ericsson logged motor skill observations like coordination and balance in addition to compiling results of diagnostics tests given in grade 2 and a final test given in grade 9. Key findings of the study include:
- 96% of the intervention group versus 89% of the control group achieved the goals of the compulsory school needed to advance to upper-secondary school. The greatest difference was found amongst boys – 96% versus 83%. The boys in the intervention group also had higher scores in math, language, and PE than the boys in the control group.
- By grade 9, 93%of the children in the intervention group expressed good motor skills compared with only 53% of the control group.
Previous studies have found positive effects of daily PE on muscle and bone development as well as obesity prevention, but this study is unique in that it shows the progress of an intervention for so many years as well as using children were the same age, from the same environment and socioeconomic status. Ericsson adds: “Physical education has been pared down from three lessons a week to one or two. We scientifically confirm here that daily timetabled physical education and adapted motor skills training not only improve motor skills but also school achievement. With more physical education and health considerably more students attain passing grades.”