Many factors play into a student’s performance on a test. In addition to the amount of studying the student has done, their mood and physical state can also have a significant impact. Research has shown that exercising before taking a test could boost performance. In light of this finding, some schools are encouraging students to be active before sitting down to take a test.

The Effects of Exercise on the Brain

Studies conducted at the University of Illinois have shown that walking for just 20 minutes before a test can improve children’s scores. The researchers asked a group of children aged nine and ten to walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes before taking an academic test, while another group of children rested before taking the test. Not only did children who exercised before the test achieve better results, but scans showed more activity in certain areas of their brain. It appears that exercise literally boosts brain function, allowing kids to perform at their best.

Are Fit Kids Smarter?

Other studies have shown that kids who are physically fit perform better on certain kinds of tests, including those that require children to remember information. Brain scans show that a brain region known as the hippocampus, which is important for memory, is bigger and more active in children who are more physically fit than their peers. Even among identical twins, teens who are physically in shape achieve higher average scores on IQ tests than their less fit siblings. The results are clear: an active lifestyle not only protects physical health but may also have beneficial effects on the brain.

Schools Are Incorporating Pre-Test Exercise

Some schools are using the results of this research to help their students perform well on standardized tests. For example, kids at Madison Middle School take part in ten-minute “brain booster” sessions during test season. During these sessions, kids run and bound their way through an obstacle course that is designed to get their heart rates up and their brain waves pulsing. At the end of the course, kids get a snack and water. Teachers claim the brain booster courses help kids to take a break from test-related stress and blow off some steam before returning to the classroom.

How Parents Can Help Kids Perform Better in Tests

Even kids who don’t go to schools with brain booster sessions can use exercise to help them perform well in tests. Gentle exercise, such as walking, has been shown to have an effect. Therefore, parents may be able to help their kids succeed by walking them to school on the morning of a test, rather than driving to the school. If the distance to school is too far to walk, kids could walk a couple of laps of the school grounds before a test to get the same effect. As research has shown, even just a few minutes of activity can make a difference, so it is worth encouraging students to get up and get active before they go into the classroom to take a test. For even greater long-term benefits, think about including regular exercise in your children’s everyday routines to help them build fit bodies and healthy brains.

Online Learning can be a convenient way parents can more easily incorporate exercise into their children’s school day. Virtual schools allow for a more flexible schedule so kids can take advantage of short bursts of activity prior to taking exams and even learning difficult subjects. For more information about online schools in your area, visit K12.com or ask for a free information kit.

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