Several schools across the country have adopted early morning physical education classes in order to assist students with learning. In Naperville, Illinois,District 203 has been conducting a Learning Readiness Physical Educationprogram for years. Their approach hasreceived national attention because of the positive impact it has had onliteracy scores. More and more evidencepoints to the reasons why this intervention is so successful. Primarily, when students are introduced to an early regiment of exercise, they become more focused and ready to learn due, inpart, to an increased oxygen flow to the brain combined with an increase inneurotransmitters.
The other side benefit of exercising in the morning is thatit improves mood, lowers aggression, and increases attention. What is beneficial in introducing exercise asa part of a student’s preparation for learning is making sure that what the studentsengage in triggers their attention system. ExerGaming is an excellent tool because it provides immediate feedback,is a challenge leveled to the individual’s skill set, is pleasurable to thebrain, and is motivational so kids stay with the routine more easily.
In a recent case study that I conducted at my school, wefound duel benefits to utilizing ExerGaming as the medium for exercise. We chose one of our most unfocused and oftendisruptive students and introduced him to a new ExerGaming lab we hadimplemented in our school. What resultedwas an increase in motivation by simply working to receive ExerGaming labtime. The teacher set expectations forthe morning. When the student achievedthose goals, he received, as a reward, extra time in the lab. The teachercommented that it was the most leverage she ever had on motivating thisstudent’s behavior. He enjoyed the labso much that he worked harder than he ever had about following directions andcompleting assignments.
The other benefit was derived from the physiological effectsof the exercise. The teacher said that,when he returned from his workout, he was more calm and successful in theclass. He now was benefiting fromincreased dopamine and serotonin to the brain which helped regulate his moodand aggression as well as activating his attention system. ExerGaming provided a huge motivational tooland also created a more focused student. The teacher was so pleased with the results that she has become a strongadvocate for using the ExerGaming lab as an intervention for kids.
Next year our elementary school will start a morning physical activity class for all kids who struggle with behavior andattention. What was clear this year wasthat when we improved the behavior and learning for a struggling student, weimproved the learning for everyone.
Recently, there is evidence that states are noticing thelink between exercise and learning. Asthe research becomes more widely known, Utah legislators are beginning to payattention. For example, Rep. Paul Ray and Rep. Eric Hutchings, areconsidering several approaches to improving the fitness levels of kids andimproving school test scores. They haveintroduced a program that promotes high heart-rate physical education classesbefore the school day begins. Thenovelty of ExerGaming is a key strategy in this pursuit. Today’s students enjoy and are motivated byvideo games. ExerGaming blends theirinterest in this medium and, at the same time, engages students with unique andexciting workouts. As more is known, weexpect schools to embrace the concept of exercising before instruction.