Put the Physical Back in Education

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In classrooms across America today, children are getting less physical activity while schools are focusing more on standardized testing rather than the overall well-being of the child. More and more, studies are showing that physical activity is a crucial part of childhood brain development in addition to keeping them physically healthy with less chronic health issues.

There is an increasing number of children that are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to recent statistics, 11% of children and adolescents between the ages of 4 to 17 are diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult for the child to focus due to being over-active and having difficulty to controlling their behaviors. This makes it difficult for teachers in the classroom because these children can be distracting other children from their learning and education.

In the classroom today, when children are overactive they are told to sit down rather than encouraging the child to get rid of the excess energy they have. But could this be the wrong way to deal with children who has/doesn’t have ADHD?

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted a study that was conducted on 40 8 to 10 year olds. This group consisted of both boy and girls, with half of the group diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers that conducted the study had the students initially complete a test measuring their academic abilities and recorded their scores.  On another occasion, the researchers had the students perform an activity where they walked briskly or jog for 20 minutes, and then to perform the same test again. This time, the researchers measured the electrical activity in the child’s brain as they repeated the same task.

The researchers found that the children with and without ADHD showed improvements in their math and reading scores after they had exercised for the 20 minutes. The students with ADHD had even more significant increase in their scores. The brain waves of children with ADHD also showed that they were able to regulate their behavior better after exercising.

Of course, everyone knows that exercise is beneficial, but this study shows that it is even more beneficial for students with ADHD and for students’ overall performance. Could schools be wrong about cutting out the amount of physical activity their students received?

Read the full article on the NYTimes

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