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Research & Investigations in Sports Medicine

Physical Activity Interventions in School and their impact on Scholastic Performance

  • Open or CloseIngegerd Ericsson*

    Associate professor in Sport Sciences, Malmö University, Sweden

    *Corresponding author:Ingegerd Ericsson, Associate professor in Sport Sciences, Malmö University, Nordenskiöldsgatan 10, S-205 06 Malmö, Sweden

Submission: April 20, 2020;Published: July 23, 2020

DOI: 10.31031/RISM.2020.06.000645

ISSN: 2577-1914
Volume6 Issue4


The school is the only arena where the vast majority of children and youth can be reached, and school programs have had better results for improving inhibitory control than any other approach. The aim was to present and discuss intervention effects of Physical Activity (PA) carried out in the classroom compared to motor skills and Physical Education (PE) interventions.
Results from PA interventions in school are inconsistent, but PE interventions which include motor skills exercise seem to be the most promising. The main findings show that motor skills are a stronger predictor of scholastic performance than aerobic fitness. Aerobic exercise with a high level of physical exertion does not improve any cognitive function in children. Cognitive engagement in PA at a moderate level seems to be the most promising type of exercise. PA lessons do not seem to improve any executive function and classroom-based PA do not have a positive impact on scholastic performance. Although there is some evidence that a single session of moderate PA may improve cognitive performance among children, too intense levels of PA may blunt any beneficial effect. There is a lack of a theoretical basis as to why PA lessons may facilitate scholastic performance. What students are supposed to learn from physical activities in the classroom needs to be clarified.
An increase of the school subject PE and motor skills exercise can be a feasible to improve motor skills and scholastic performance in children and youth, especially when interventions are developed by trained PE teachers. Daily PE in combination with adapted motor skills support can improve not only motor skills but also scholastic performance and proportions of students who reach qualification for higher education. In addition the intervention would produce health-economic gains for society (reduced morbidity costs and productivity gains). Well educated PE teachers are essential for translating research findings into practice since they can properly design motor skill observations, PE programs, and motor skill programs in order to optimize their effect on children´s cognition and scholastic performance.

Conclusion: There is limited and inconclusive evidence regarding effects of different PA interventions in school on cognitive functioning and scholastic performance. Moderate levels of PA with cognitive challenges are more effective than aerobic exercise. There is a strong association between motor competence and scholastic performance. PE interventions which include motor skills exercise seem to be more promising than PA in the classroom. Motor skills assessment early in school is associated with later school achievement and can be used as an indicator of children´s future scholastic performance. Daily PE and adapted motor skills training can positively influence motor skills, higher grades and higher proportions of pupils who reach qualification for higher education.

Keywords: Fundamental motor skills; MUGI observation checklist; Physical education; The bunkeflo project; Executive functions; Brain breaks; Teacher education

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