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Physical Education and Academic Achievement

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1 Physical Education and Academic Achievement
Zero Hour Physical Education

2 How Physical Activity Affects the Brain
Exercise increases the number of capillaries around the neurons in the brain, thereby increasing oxygen supply to the brain. This improves the speed of recall Exercise increases the production of dopamine, which is a mood-enhancing neurotransmitter Exercise reduces stress. Stress hinders long-term memory formation Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins which increase alertness Exercise increases the growth of the nerve cells in the hippocampus (center of learning and memory) Exercise increases the production of a neurotransmitter called BDNF. BDNF helps develop the nerves that help us learn and it is known as “miracle-gro” for the brain


4 Research into Physical Activity and Academic Achievement
Increased time in physical education was found to have a positive relationship with academic achievement in 11 out of 14 studies. There was no negative relationship associated with the remaining 3 studies. Eight out of nine studies found positive associations between classroom-based physical activity and attitudes, academic behavior, and academic achievement. None of the studies found negative associations. Other studies have noted that students who participate in daily physical education “exhibit better attendance, a more positive attitude towards school, and superior academic performance” Higher levels of physical fitness are positively associated with better attendance and fewer negative school incidents.

5 Cardio Fit to Learn/ Zero Hour PE
Based on research into physical activity and academic achievement, Spark by Dr. John Ratey, and Naperville’s Learning Readiness PE program Naperville, IL: Students who are struggling with reading or mathematics take learning readiness PE i.e. a physical education class immediately before their reading or math class

6 Average increase in Algebra scores of non-LRPE and LRPE students over the semester in Naperville, IL

7 Cardio Fit to Learn/ Zero Hour PE
More than 76 students initially signed up for the first class which ran during S2 of 26 students took Cardio Fit Zero Hour The class had a strong emphasis on exercising in the target heart rate zone while experiencing a wide range of activities – adolescence is a key time for the formation of lifelong exercise habits Awarded two grants (DCE Foundation and WAHPERD) during the school year to purchase heart rate monitors for the class

8 Zero Hour PE Students completed a physical fitness test at the start and end of the semester 22 out of the 26 students improved their level of VO2 max over the course of the semester The other 4 students were either ill or injured and unable to participate in the final test

9 Comparison between student VO2 max levels in January and June 2010

10 Student comments on Zero Hour
“I feel more attentive during first hour” “Everyday after this class I feel more energetic. I am less tired” “My energy levels have improved” “I am happier at school now” “ I feel much more awake now and I still do ” “I am much more motivated” “I feel more positive in myself” “I am more outgoing” “I have been in a happier mood” “I am more happy and more productive” “I am more motivated to try” “I think this class helped my communication skills a lot”

11 Physical Activity Guidelines for Adolescents
1 hour of or more physical activity every day Most of the 1 hour or more a day should be either moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity Adolescents should engage in vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity on at least 3 days a week and bone strengthening activity on 3 days per week

12 Future Vision Daily Physical Education for all students K-12
Student schedules built to ensure that Physical Education occurs prior to their most challenging class Classroom breaks for physical activity built into to the day. These should complement the current learning activity. Collaboration between physical education teachers and classroom teachers to strengthen the learning experience e.g. literacy/ mathematics as part of PE Improved nutrition education and nutritional choices available in schools – poor nutrition is associated with lower academic achievement

13 Resources Learning readiness PE:
CDC/ NASPE report: (full document) (executive summary) Spark – John Ratey, MD:

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