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Student Well-Being

More Exercise, Higher Grades

By Katie Ash — February 14, 2008 1 min read

In her story this week, Education Week‘s Debra Viadero says that research is drawing an increasingly strong link between exercise and academic performance. Here’s an excerpt:

There’s sort of no question about it now," said Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "The exercise itself doesn’t make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position for them to learn."

This has significant implications for schools that, finding themselves in a time-crunch, have cut down on the amount of time allotted for physical education during school. Considering how long kids spend watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the net each day, P.E. could conceivably be the only hour they spend being physically active.

In light of this research and--perhaps more importantly--rising childhood obesity rates, it seems that some states are beginning to understand the value of P.E. This AP story describes legislation in Oklahoma that would increase the amount of required physical fitness activities in elementary and middle schools, and over the past few months, I’ve read several stories about similar efforts across the country.

I notice, as I’m sure many of you do, that I am less stressed, more attentive, and more alert when I can find the time to exercise than when I’m stuck at my desk, staring at a computer screen all day. It’s good to see those personal observations backed up by scientific research.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.