Get Moving to Get Ahead: The Link Between Exercise and Academic Performance


Here at Assist Programs, we are passionate about getting students to move more  and the myriad benefits of structured play. This week, we’re excited to share some research-backed protocols that can help improve the academic performance of your elementary aged students.

First, some context:

According to the CDC, there is a positive relationship between increased physical fitness levels and academic achievement, as well as fitness levels and measures of cognitive skills and attitudes.

Physical activity can improve students’ memory, attention, and concentration, helping them stay on-task in the classroom. This translates to reading comprehension equivalent to a full grade-level improvement in study periods following exercise. To get the greatest academic benefit, students should be coached to safely participate in vigorous exercise and team activities.

Lastly, we know that sustained effort and engagement is critical. Students will get the greatest improvements by moving for at least 20 minutes a day. Thankfully, that aligns with the typical bell schedule, and with the proper design, you can ensure that  your recess periods support and augment the academic day.

Structured, engaged, vigorous recess in the school environment is that important.

So, what are some examples of games that get big groups of students moving?

First, a dedicated coach is invaluable. Time is ticking and someone who can quickly organize students will help maximize the time. They can also motivate and play along with the kids to keep everyone engaged (who needs a cardio machine?).

Pick an activity that keeps the energy high. Here are some variations on popular games with setup, instructions, RPE (rate of perceived exertion) and duration.

We hope these ideas will help you jump-start an impactful and most importantly fun program for your students!

If you need any help, Assist Programs is standing by. We’ve been doing this for over 7 years and have worked with 100,000 students, helping us refine our activities, coaching methods, and expanding the curriculum to include SEL, character strengths development, fitness and nutrition, and more.

We’d love to learn more about your organization, programs, and needs. You can schedule a 15-minute introductory call with us here