Benefits of gross motor skills and physical activity

Even acute bouts of physical activity have been shown to improve cognition. One study revealed that preadolescent children who completed 20 minutes of treadmill training at a moderate pace responded to test questions on reading, spelling, and arithmetic with greater accuracy and had improved reading comprehension compared to children who had been sitting. In addition, the children completed learning tasks faster and more accurately were more likely to read above their grade level following the physical activity

How do gross motor skills/physical activity affect concentration?
Teachers know all too well how much effort is spent on trying to get and maintain students’ attention. Teachers try frequent questioning, moving about the room, changing tone of voice and many more techniques. An alternative method for teachers to increase attention, concentration and on-task behavior may be to incorporate bouts of physical activity throughout the school day. Research has shown that some children who participated in an in-class physical activity program improved their on-task behaviors by 20 percent. Additional research regarding physical activity and school performance revealed that physical activity may improve concentration (Taras, 2005). Active lessons that require more coordinated gross motor skills such as balancing, reaction time, etc. were associated with better concentration on academic tasks (Budde, 2008).

Suggestions to increase gross motor skills/physical activity during the school day
There are many ways to incorporate more physical activity and movement breaks into a school day. One of the easiest ways to increase physical activity time is to add physical education classes and recess. However, this can be the most difficult to accomplish within a school day since so much time is already devoted to structured learning. If additional physical education and recess time is not available, work on incorporating physical movement throughout the school day with brain breaks. During transitions from one subject matter to another, perform short bouts of exercises such as jumping in place, dancing to music or jumping jacks. Help teachers develop multisensory lessons that incorporate movement with academics. Not only will the multisensory activities increase movement time, but they may also assist kinesthetic learners to improve academically. By teaming up with members of the school and community, physical and occupational therapists can help make active changes to children’s patterns of physical fitness, health and cognitive function!

They help us move and do everything from lifting heavy items to typing on a keyboard. Motor skills and motor control begin developing after birth, and will progress as children grow. Having good motor control also helps children explore the world around them, which can help with many other areas of development.

Benefits of gross motor skills and physical activity

Recent research indicates that regular participation in physical activity may improve academic performance. Schools that have added physical activity into their curriculum showed a 6% increase in student’s standardized test scores when compared to peers who had inactive lessons . One comprehensive research review included 59 studies, indicated a significant and positive effect of physical activity on children’s achievement and cognitive outcomes, with aerobic exercise having the greatest effect . Ninety minutes per week of cardiorespiratory fitness has been associated with improvements in the cognitive control of working memory in preadolescent children. Children who participated in 90 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity during an after school program displayed improvements in working memory . Physically active lessons including physical activity breaks have been shown to reduce time-off-task (20.5%) and improve reading, math, spelling and composite scores . In another study, children who participated in physically active lessons had significantly greater gains in mathematics speed test, general mathematics, and spelling scores although no changes were seen in reading scores .

Physical education classes and recess offer opportunities for students to increase physical activity throughout the school day. Although, at times children are sedentary even during these periods. Research indicated that children who participate in physical activity during physical education lessons may facilitate immediate and delayed memory . Many studies show that the more vigorous the physical activity is the larger the effects on academic performance.