We know that our students spend too much time sitting down. They’re antsy and unhappy, and — increasingly — overweight. Wouldn’t it be great if we could add even quick exercise breaks into the class day?
Of course, we have lots of reasons to be skeptical about this possibility.
Even if we get them to move more in class, they might just be more sedentary later in the day.
If they burn more calories at school, they might eat more later on.
And: let’s be practical. If we get our students up and moving around, it might take FOREVER to get them settled back down again.
Which is to say: if they move more, they might learn less.
Quick Exercise Breaks: The Research
A research team has been exploring each of these questions, and they’ve got LOTS of good news.
In brief, almost all of these fears are groundless.
We were right to be skeptical, right to ask all those questions. But the answers turn out to be: “not to worry!”
For example: students who get extra exercise in class don’t spend more time on the couch later on.
They don’t eat more either.
They plain old feel better.
And — here’s some great news: they get back to work in about 30 seconds. (They learn the same amount as their sedentary peers, by the way.)
The Bad News?
Honestly, there’s just not much bad news here. The worst researchers could report is that they didn’t quite meet their goals.
They wanted teachers to do ten quick exercise breaks, but they averaged only five.
Given all the other good news, I’m thinking we can live with this.
By the way: we might have hoped that the exercise would help students learn — not just fail to impede learning.
Research into that question is complex. Here’s a link to a recent article on the subject.
In the meanwhile: here’s a fun video on the Michigan research project.