Studies suggest that regular physical activity supports healthy child development by improving memory, concentration and positive outlook, according to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit operating foundation founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1991.
Learning and exercising have a direct correlation with each other. A 2013 report stated that children who are more active “show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active,” according to the National Academy of Medicine.
“I think a lot of classes could involve more physical activities like interaction and collaboration between students,” PSUC theatre professor Kim Hartshorn said. “If physical activity is appropriate for the class, it is always a good thing.”
Schools can promote physical activity by including physical activity programs, classroom-based physical activity, intramural physical activity clubs, interscholastic sports, and physical education, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Working interactively is better for many people than just sitting in class in a passive way,” Hartshorn said.
Hartshorn said teachers could make the class more fun in a lot of ways, and students who are having more fun are likely to be more engaged and perform better at school. Physical activities not only help develop muscles and prevent obesity, but also improve students’ socialization and learning new skills.
“I believe class should involve more physical activities because it helps students learn better,” PSUC sophomore anthropology major Beverly Morrisey said. “Students take part in activities instead of just sitting and taking notes because they might get bored.”
She said it helps stimulate the brain so students do not have to focus through hours of one thing. The human brain is no different than the muscles in a person’s body. Briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions, according to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia.
“I would rather do some physical activities in class,” Morrisey said. “You learn better when you actually have to get up, move around and interact with other people.”
When people are physically involved, she said it is easier for them to remember and learn how something works. For example, Morrisey finds that biology labs allow her to memorize and learn the facts better instead of trying to learn from notes and what her professor says.
“I believe that some students learn a lot better when they have a demonstration in front of them rather than just notes on a powerpoint,” PSUC sophomore human development and family relations major Christine Nghe said. “This is important because it may benefit students and their learning styles.”
For instance, Nghe said she would learn better if she could interact and engage with other people in her class.
“I remember it a lot better than just memorizing notes,” she said.
For classes such as math and literature, which seems impossible to incorporate physical activities, Nghe suggested teachers make students more active by demonstrating different math problems with objects, and maybe creating a play or role playing, which can help students understand it more.
“I believe that physical activity will help students because some things that one student knows, another might not,” she said. “It will benefit the student because it will help them understand the material more, but at the same time, it depends on how the student learns the material because everyone has a different learning style.”
Hartshorn said people have different learning styles. He said some people learn very well by just sitting, listening and taking notes, and some might not.
“You need to have a mixture of different kinds of learning environments in order to hit everybody equally,” Hartshorn said.
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