Recess benefits trump extra academic exposure

A study on the benefits of physical activity (recess) and its effect on academic learning once again emphasizes the importance of scheduling recess and physical education into the school day.

Researchers Charles Hillman the director of the Neurocognitive Kinesiology Laboratory and Darla Castelli, professor of kinesiology and community health at University of Illinois, have found that physical activity may increase students' cognitive control -- or ability to pay attention -- and also result in better performance on academic achievement tests.

For each of three testing criteria, researchers noted a positive outcome linking physical activity, attention and academic achievement. "The biggest gain in academic performance was in the area of reading comprehension,” Hillman said. In fact, he said, “If you go by the guidelines set forth by the Wide Range Achievement Test, the increase in reading comprehension following exercise equated to approximately a full grade level.

The U. of I. study appears in the current issue of the journal Neuroscience.