ADHD News & Research

New Study: Daily “Movement” Regime Promotes Learning

A structured, non-strenuous program focusing on certain key movements may help children better focus in school, new research finds.

July 14, 2017

Children who move their bodies everyday are better able to sit still, focus, and succeed at school over time, according to a new year-long study.

The research, conducted by a team at Loughborough University in the UK, followed 40 children from two schools for 12 months, splitting them into two groups: one that participated in a “Movement for Learning” program and one that didn’t. The children in the active group were given structured opportunities each day to throw, catch, balance, skip, and draw letters in the air. The control children went about their school day as they normally did.

Unsurprisingly, the children who participated in Movement for Learning improved all the specific skills they practiced — they were better at throwing, catching, balancing, and so on. But after a year they also improved their overall physical fitness, jumping on average from the 32nd to the 50th percentile. The control group made no progress at all, researchers said.

Interestingly, teacher reports showed that the active children made significant improvement in less physical areas, too, like focusing, sitting still, holding a pencil, and reading. This was especially promising, researchers said, because approximately 30 percent of the children had symptoms of ADHD, dyslexia, or another learning disability.

Children today, on average, are less physically active than children were in the past. This is having a negative effect on both physical fitness and academic success, the researchers said — something the Movement for Learning program hopes to combat.

“Changes in our modern world mean that many children are moving less and are not developing the physical skills that they need for learning,” said Professor Pat Preedy, one of the program’s creators. “It has been most rewarding to see how a short, daily program can help children to get back on track for learning.”

Fifty other schools are currently trying out the program, and should be able to provide preliminary results in a few months. Preedy and her team hope to make the program available for free to all interested schools in England by 2018.