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Off-Campus Physical Education Programs are Boosting Grades Nationwide

Schools across the nation are implementing off-campus physical education programs. Highlands College in Homewood, Alabama actually requires their students to run a half-marathon! At this college, fitness is a non-negotiable part of your growth – and your grade.

Physical education programs can have both immediate and long-term benefits on academic performance. Almost immediately after engaging in physical activity, children are better able to concentrate on classroom tasks, which can enhance learning. As children engage in developmentally appropriate physical activity, their improved physical fitness can have additional positive effects on academic performance in mathematics, reading, and writing. Recent evidence shows how physical activity’s effects on the brain may create these positive outcomes.

These two brain images, taken from the top of the head, represent the average amount of students’ neural activity during a test following sitting and walking for 20 minutes. The color blue represents lower neural activity, while the color red denotes higher brain activity in a given region.

Physical education programs

The problem with most school physical education programs is they tend to focus on team sports rather than coordination. A study of 115 adolescents showed that active lessons requiring more coordination (e.g., balancing, reacting, adjusting, and differentiating) were associated with better concentration on academic tasks than traditional physical education lessons focused on team sports.

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