A small study conducted by Swedish researchers proves that physical education doesn’t just combat childhood obesity; it also helps children’s performance in the classroom.
The study followed over 200 students starting from first through third grade for nine years. The control group received about one to two physical education classes a week, while the intervention group received physical education during every weekday. In addition, the intervention group also received motor-physical training which aimed to help improve the students’ balance and coordination.
At the end of the study, more than 96 percent of the students in the intervention group earned grades that allowed them to advance to upper-secondary school. In the control group, however, only 89 percent of the children achieved the grades required to advance. Boys seemed to be even more impacted by physical education as 83 percent of the boys in the control group did not make the grades necessary to advance to upper-secondary school.
More physical education seemed to have a substantial impact on how well the children performed in the classroom, specifically in Swedish, English, math, and health courses. Many of the ninth graders at the end of the study had considerably more advanced motor skills compared to the control group. Only 53 percent of the students who were a part of the control group were found to have good motor skills.
The author of the study, Ingegerd Ericsson of Malmo University, said, “Physical education has been pared down from three lessons a week to one or two. We scientifically confirm here that daily timetabled physical education and adapted motor skills training not only improves motor skills but also school achievement.”
According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Illinois is currently the only state in the U.S that requires physical education for at least 30 minutes every weekday from kindergarten through high school. Several other states in the U.S only require P.E up until eighth grade.