Why Students (And Teachers) Need To Be Physically Active In The Classroom

There’s a ton of buzz in the education world about how dwindling school budgets and pressure to improve test scores are taking time away from recess and physical education so that students can spend more time in the classroom. Despite more time in the classroom sounding like something that would drive academic performance, research shows a strong connection that reduced physical activity limits a student’s ability to learn. With growing rates of childhood obesity and its associated issues, there’s more reason than ever to make sure to include some physical movement into the classroom.

The handy infographic below takes a look at some of the statistics about classroom movement (or the lack thereof!) Do you incorporate movement into your classroom on a regular basis? How? Have you encountered resistance or other issues getting the time allocated? Weigh in by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Getting Moving in the Classroom

  • Childhood obesity has tripled in the last three decades
  • Nearly 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese
  • Only 6 states require physical education in every grade
  • Only 20% of school districts require daily recess
  • 2 out of 3 kids are ‘inactive’
  • Physical activity helps keep key parts of the brain in shape for learning
  • Increased oxygen to the brain helps improve learning
  • Research shows that children who engage in daily physical activity show superior motor fitness, academic performance, and attitude towards school than those who don’t
  • Giving your brain a break with movement helps improve concentration
  • The brain has natural highs and lows throughout the day that effect cognitive ability. Movement helps maintain focus
  • Tablets and standing desks are ways to help encourage movement while working and between work
  • Studies show that introducing low impact movement during classroom time has a positive impact on student health, classroom engagement, and academic performance
  • The Mayo Clinic estimates that a child standing will burn about 15 more calories per hour than one that is sitting. Over the course of the school year that is approximately 18,000 calories or 5 lbs of fat
  • Greater student focus has been achieved in studies using stand-biased desks
  • A positive correlation is shown between physical activity and test scores


active in the classroom

1 Comment

  1. Adam Baker

    August 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I am currently battling this in my school and it is definitely an uphill battle. The rationale seems to be that because teachers are unfit and unmotivated to get kids moving it is ultimately the kids that suffer. There is definitely enough time in the day to cover all academic work as well as allowing them the time to be active. Active body equals active mind.