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June 15, 2019 - Volume 4 - Issue 12

  • Joseph E. Donnelly, EdD, FACSM
  • 2379-2868
  • 2379-2868
  • Twice each month


In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that indicated classroom physical activity can increase total physical activity accumulated by children without adversely affecting academic achievement (1). However, potential positive effects of physical activity in the classroom on learning and academic achievement are not always apparent. Available studies show improvements, no change, and rarely, negative effects. Interpretation is further complicated by varying effects on different subjects (e.g., math, reading) and between boys and girls. 

An additional potential influence of classroom physical activity is the effect on attention or “time-on-task” (TOT) for academic lessons. Given it is generally accepted that learning is enhanced when students are focused on the lessons provided, it is important to consider the effect of classroom physical activity for TOT as teachers worry that subsequent to a bout of physical activity students might be more difficult to control and will not “settle down.”

Both issues are important for the adoption of classroom physical activity as teachers and administration will not accept such programs if they appear to interfere with learning or classroom management. Szabo and colleagues present information on both topics from a recently funded, 3-year NIH trial involving children initially in grades 2 and 3 followed to grades 4 and 5 in 17 elementary schools. This information will be important for policy considerations regarding the promotion of physical activity in the classroom.

The Translational Journal of The American College of Sports Medicine welcomes manuscripts that have physical activity and policy implications for individuals and large communities such as schools.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta (GA):US Department of Health and Human Services: 2010.

Joseph E. Donnelly, EdD, FACSM