The assigned chapter addresses the impacts of physical activity on children’s physical and mental well-being. One of the most commonly applied physical activity sessions is the physical education (P.E) class which gives an opportunity for students to exercise as part of their school programs. However, the study shows that the P.E classes do not provide adequate time for physical exercise to have a measurable impact on students’ performance and wellbeing (Zhou & Brown, 2018). That said, the authors focus on classroom-based physical activity as complementing the physical education sessions. There are two main modes of classroom-based physical activity addressed in this chapter: incorporating physical exercises into the lessons and introducing active breaks.
Despite the evidence of classroom-based physical activities being so limited, a number of reviews and meta-analyses have attempted to tackle its benefits. The authors referred to narrative reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses in their research. Some of the drawbacks noted in the studies used by the authors are the narrowness of scope and reference to a few studies that do not guarantee comprehensive coverage of the concept. They also indicate that combining data on both primary and secondary students complicates the results (Zhou & Brown, 2018). To deal with the latter challenge, the authors focused their study on primary school students and sought to examine both academic and non-academic outcomes of physical activity.
The articles used in the study were carefully selected based on the criteria that the studies followed an intervention study design, focused on primary school children, and analyzed at least one academic-related result. Thirty-nine studies were included in the systematic review and meta-analyses. With respect to classroom behavior, the studies showed that classroom-related physical activity positively influenced acute behavior in the classroom, but this effect diminishes over time (Zhou & Brown, 2018). This implies that the long-term impact of physical activity on classroom behavior proved to be minimal. The meta-analysis indicated that physical exercise in the classroom had no significant impact on cognitive function (Zhou & Brown, 2018). The results also showed a positive correlation between classroom-based exercise and academic performance and students’ long-term physical activity.
The Article’s Main Idea
The article is based on the perspective that classroom-related physical exercise impacts primary school students’ cognitive function, academic performance, and classroom behavior. Physical activity has been integrated into school programs for many years due to the perceived effects on students’ positive growth and development. Cognitive abilities have to do with students’ ability to capture and retain content over a long time. In this study, the authors measured the impact of classroom-based exercises on cognitive skills by assessing how students’ attention changed over time, influenced by physical activity (Zhou & Brown, 2018). Meta-analysis of data on the selected studies addressing cognitive function showed no significant effects attributed to this cause. Although a few studies showed a positive correlation in the short run, chronic effects were negligible.
Academic performance is perceived to be the key requirement for students’ engagement in school programs. While measuring the impact of classroom-based exercises on students’ academic outcomes, the authors referred to the period ranging from four weeks to one year. They noted that in the short run, physical activity might positively affect performance (Zhou & Brown, 2018). In the classroom, students’ behavior was analyzed depending on on-task and off-task traits. As would be expected, physical exercises integrated into the classroom lessons showed a positive impact on on-task behavior while limiting off-task activity (Zhou & Brown, 2018). The three factors handled in the article’s main point appear to be interrelated. This is because as students engage in active breaks within the lessons, their minds are relieved of much pressure, improving their attention and consequently contributing to better academic performance.
The chapter’s view on the effect of active breaks on academic performance is a critical issue that invites different points and disagreements from other scholars. To begin with, any school program is designed to promote students’ academic excellence. For this reason, it is expected that physical activity provided through P.E lessons and integrated active breaks works for the student’s academic development. In the study presented in this chapter, the authors differentiated the assessment tools as either continuous monitoring or national standardized tests. Zhou & Brown (2018) noted that continuous monitoring tests showed a positive outcome while national standardized tests revealed that active breaks had no impact on students’ academic performance. This issue presents a debatable concept because academic performance is not just measured by these tests but also by the students’ ability to apply critical thinking skills to solve problems.
According to Zhou & Brown (2018), the intervention period determined the academic-related outcomes. This makes sense because consistent physical activity is bound to stimulate the mind. However, the use of standardized tests does not provide an accurate measure of students’ excellence. Today’s academic institutions are grappling with the issue of memorized coursework that produces graduates without the critical thinking skills needed in today’s competitive world. Although the authors assessed the impact of classroom-related exercises on students’ perception of academic competence, they failed to link this perception to actual academic results. Personal perceptions will be invalid if they do not amount to a measurable outcome. Some researchers would argue that what students perceive about themselves should be positively correlated to their actual results. Some scholars might argue that personal perceptions of academic competence are bound to change with time, depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, an issue not addressed in this chapter’s study.
In conclusion, physical activity lessons have been an integral part of school programs for many years. Researchers have shown that the time allocated for the P.E lessons is barely significant to influence students’ performance both academically and in other classroom behavior. The address of classroom-related exercises is critical, as shown in this chapter because it provides measurable outcomes. In addition, students in different age groups may respond differently to physical exercises. This has been a weakness in previous studies that have mixed primary and secondary students’ data in their research. This chapter’s study relied on results from narrative and systematic reviews and meta-analyses to focus on the effects of active breaks on primary students’ cognitive abilities, classroom behavior, and academic performance.
As shown by the presented results, classroom-based exercise facilitates on-task behavior and obstructs off-task engagement. Although the effect of active breaks on cognitive function showed inconsistent outcomes, the authors noted that employing reliable and valid tests may produce the expected outcome. Lastly, the measure of academic performance in relation to physical exercise depended on the measurement tool used and the length of the intervention period. Continuous monitoring tools were shown to be a good measure of academic performance because they provide periodic measurements that can be linked to active breaks.
Zhou, M. & Brown, D. (2018). Arts integration in the elementary curriculum. Web.