Get active in the classroom

Get active in the classroom

Move over reading, writing and arithmetic – elementary school students benefit from jumping jacks, push-ups and other physical activities during the school day.

Short bursts of physical activity can improve classroom behavior, according to a recent study. In fact, after performing just four minutes of physical activity, students fidget less and are more attentive for the next 50 minutes, the study found.

“Given the time crunch associated with the current school curriculum, we thought that very brief physical activity breaks might be an interesting way to approach daily physical activity,” said Dr. Brendon Gurd, lead researcher and professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University, in a statement. “We were particularly interested in what effects a brief exercise bout might have in the classroom setting.”

To perform the study, second and fourth grade students were taught a lesson and then given an activity break. On some days they would learn about healthy living and on other days they would do four minutes high intensity activities like star jumps, squats and lunges. On days when these activities were performed, the kids’ behavior improved.

One activity requires students to make s’mores. Kids would lunge for imaginary firewood, crouch down as if they were making a fire before performing a star jump and then squatting and jumping to “roast the marshmallows.” This activity took just 20 seconds followed by a 10-second break before it was repeated.

“Exercise is so important for kids,” says Laura Tarry, fitness manager at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill. “Today we live very convenient lives which do not give us opportunities to move. We need kids to be more active so their bodies work at their full potential.”

While some kids might not enjoy physical activity, Tarry recommends their parents help them find fun activities. It is also important for parents to be good role models. “If adults model exercise as a priority, kids will more likely mimic the same things,” she explains.

Related Posts



  1. Ernst Lamothe Jr November 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm · Reply

    I think this is a good idea. Too many elementary schools are cutting back on recess anyway so this gives kids a burst of activity throughout the day.

  2. Lisa Parro

    Kids need to find healthy ways to use their boundless energy.

Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.