Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Aerobics
Many schools have reduced physical education classes to devote more time to the 3 Rs in education—reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, there is new evidence that leaving out an important fourth R—aerobics—could actually be counterproductive for increasing test scores.
A new study by Dr. Robert R. Rauner and colleagues from Lincoln Public Schools and Creighton University examined the associations between aerobic fitness, body mass index (BMI), and passing scores on standardized math and reading tests.
Students who don't get enough exercise are more likely to fail
They found that aerobically-fit children had a 2.4 times greater chance of passing math tests and a 2.2 times greater chance of passing reading tests compared with aerobically-unfit children.
Physical Fitness more important than BMI
The researchers also found that body-mass index (BMI, a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) was an important indicator for overall general health, but did not have a significant effect on test scores.
The authors found that both aerobic fitness and socioeconomic status have a similar impact on academic performance. Because aerobic fitness can be easier to improve than socioeconomic status, and it is easy to implement in a school setting, schools should think twice before taking minutes from physical education classes and recess.
According to Dr. Rauner, “Schools sacrificing physical education and physical activity time in search of more seat time for math and reading instruction could potentially be pursuing a counterproductive approach.”
The above is based on the Journal of Pediatrics, news release, February. 28, 2013
The research has been published online:
Rauner RR, Walters RW, Avery M, Wanser TJ. Evidence that Aerobic Fitness Is More Salient than Weight Status in Predicting Standardized Math and Reading Outcomes in Fourth- through Eighth-Grade Students. J Pediatr. 2013. DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.01.006
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The Zestzfulness says
People of all ages, shapes, and sizes can boost brain power and self-esteem by improving aerobic fitness.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about children and physical activity.