Physical exercise improves children's concentration

Feb 2012
There is a definite correlation between exercise and a child's grasp of learning techniques.

Educational experts have long made the link between physical activity and improved concentration levels. Now though, using aerobic activity to create active minds is something that is beginning to be adopted by a number of UK schools.

To help 'wake-up' the mind, some students begin the day with a brain gym that could involve a quick dance routine in the classroom or a fast-paced workout in the school hall.

A study, conducted by Dr Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois, found that there was a definite correlation between exercise and a child's grasp of learning techniques.

Hillman's research revealed that after a 30-minute spell on the treadmill, pupils would fare better when it came to problem solving by up to 10%.

"It's good for attention, it's good for how fast individuals process information, and how they perform on cognitive tasks," says Hillman.

The idea that daily exercise can aid children in their education is also supported by John Ratey of the Harvard Medical School;

"Exercise, good fitness-based exercise, makes our brain more ready to learn."

The Healthy Exercise World website offers a list of 10 brain-gym activities that parents can complete with their children, including the following:

Cross Crawl
Another of the brain-gym exercises that helps with spelling, writing, listening, reading and comprehension by coordinating both the right and left brain. Place your right hand across your body to the left knee as you raise it, and then do the same thing for the left hand on the right knee just as if you were marching. Do this for 2 - 3 minutes.

Brain Buttons
This free brain exercise increases blood flow to the brain. The extra blood flow and the extra water switches the brain on, improving the attention required for learning and performing.

  • Position one hand so that there is as wide a space as possible between the thumb and index finger, like a large letter 'L.'

  • Place your index and thumb into the slight indentations below the collar bone on each side of the sternum. Press lightly in a pulsing manner.

  • At the same time, put the other hand over the navel area of the stomach. Gently press on these points for about 2 minutes.