Classroom-based physical activity and math performance: Integrated physical activity or not?

Publication Name

Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics


Aim: This 8-week intervention examined the effect of two different types of classroom-based physical activity on math performance in elementary school children. Methods: Students in 4th and 5th grade (N = 560; 32 classes, 9–11 years old) from six schools were assigned to integrated physical activity (Move for Thought [M4T], n = 221), activity break (AB; n = 134) and a control group (n = 205; usual instruction) for eight weeks. Students completed a standardised math test before and after the intervention. Programme fidelity was measured with a teacher daily log, recording the duration and frequency of the physical activity sessions. Linear mixed models were used for the analyses. Grade and gender were explored as moderators. Results: Move for Thought group outperformed AB (p < 0.001, d = 0.44) and control groups (p = 0.013, d = 0.38). However, subgroup analyses showed that these effects were evident only in Grade 4. No gender differences were found. Intervention fidelity showed that the classroom-based physical activities (M4T and AB) were used about every other day, with higher implementation among 4th graders. Conclusion: This study indicated that integrating physical activity with mathematics has stronger effects on mathematics than activity breaks and traditional instruction.

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