Study shows exercise before school improves attentiveness in class

It turns out the healthy benefits that come from physical activity aren’t the only reason children should walk or bike to school. According to a recent Danish study, exercise before school improves concentration as well.

The results surprised Niels Egelund, a co-author of the report, as the study’s initial aim was to examine how eating breakfast and lunch affects concentration.

“The results showed that having breakfast and lunch has an impact, but not very much compared to having exercised,” Egelund told [American Free Press].

“As a third-grade pupil, if you exercise and bike to school, your ability to concentrate increases to the equivalent of someone half a year further in their studies,” he added.

Perhaps your child’s school is a fair distance from your house. Or maybe the only way to get there is along busy streets designed exclusively for cars. Those are two of the concerns outlined in the link between kids who walk or bike to school and concentration. But that article also states that many parents simply drive their children to school out of “kindness,” or because it’s easier.

If you want to be kind, encourage your kids to walk or bike. After all, the study showed that children who do display heightened concentration for up to 4 hours longer than children who are driven to school. That’s improved concentration for more than 60 percent of the standard school day. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?

3 responses to “Study shows exercise before school improves attentiveness in class

  1. But what about the other ‘proven’ theory that brains aren’t fully functioning until after 10am, therefore some schools start too early? Which is it?

    1. Hi Rael,

      That’s an interesting question. We don’t think this is an either or situation. Here are a couple of things to consider.

      1) Most studies on the time of the start of school and class performance point to the benefits of a later start to class for teenagers. In this study, the 20,000 participants were between the age of 5 and 19, so it is difficult to compare the results.
      2) There is no indication if the students who took part in the study had an early or late start to class.

      If we generalize, this study points to the fact that exercise helps kids and teenagers perform better in some type of tests and other studies point to the fact that later start to school is beneficial for teenagers. For teens perhaps incorporating both i.e. getting in movement before school that starts later in the day might be the key to success.

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