The past ten years has seen an evolution of both thinking and publications on the qualitative role specific types of activity can have on cognition. There are over 100 studies on the role of physical activity, learning and cognition in children.

Here is a chat with the Understood.org team on why and how we can move more at home and in the classroom. We’ll be teaching these exercises worldwide in 2017-2018 hope we are coming to your school.

Can physical activity help improve focus and cognitive performance for kids with ADHD? Join pediatric psychologist and author Dr. Lynne Kenney to understand more about the connection between the body and the brain in learning.

Most studies are cross-sectional group comparisons, about 15 are random controlled designs primarily in the area of intervention. Studies have ranged from the benefits of chronic exercise on brain structure to the benefits of acute bouts of exercise on executive functions.

Advancements in use of fMRI, diffusion tensor imaging (white matter), EEG (ERPs) and biometric measures (VO2 max) have strengthened the neuroscience rationale for the beneficial effect of physical exercise and fitness on brain development and cognitive functioning in children and adolescents.

As we discuss the research today, it can be understood in several categories:

  1. The impact of physical health and fitness on learning and achievement
  2. The impact of physical activity on achievement. (intervention studies)
  3. The impact of physical activity on cognition and executive functions

Of the three categories of research in both children and adults, the relationship between physical fitness and achievement is most studied and supported.

Physical fitness is good for you, our children need to be moving more, playing outside and sitting less.

  1. FITNESS and TEST STANDARDIZED SCORES – Physically fit children demonstrate greater attentional resources, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized academic tests. Source: Educating the student body.
  2. FITNESS and EF’s – A growing body of research in children and adults indicates that higher levels of fitness are associated with better control of attention, memory, and cognition (Colcombe and Kramer, 2003; Hillman et al., 2008; Chang and Etnier, 2009).
  3. FITNESS AND COGNITIVE EFFICIENCY – The cognitive efficiency seen in higher-fit children, is a predictor of arithmetic and reading aptitude independently of IQ and school grade (Hillman et al., 2012).
  4. FITNESS and MENTAL HEALTH – Fitness is also associated with less depression and anxiety.

For a thorough review, see Exercise-Cognition Interaction: Neuroscience Perspectives  Terry McMorris (Ed). Chapter 12 by Pesce and Ben-Soussan has a nice review of the neuroscience + kinesiology + education research. Find more research and links to articles HERE.

WATCH The FREE 20-minute video overview of Musical Thinking HERE.


In 2017, we shall be teaching more than 50 cognitive and motor activities to enhance thinking, self-regulation, learning and behavior LIVE and online for CE. We shall teach you how to use many of the activities from BloomMusical Thinking and 70 Play Activities including, “What’s in it for me?” “The Purpose Circle” “The Love Notes” “The Little Jane Fonda” and more. Produced in easy to listen to videos with useful classroom handouts, this is an activity-filled webinar series designed to enliven and transform your work integrating current science, tools, and strategies. Sign-up to receive FREE activities and learn about upcoming events and webinars here.

Let us know how the activities go with your children and students on our Facebook page. We are interested in how you and your students grow with cognitive skill education and motor movement. 

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