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Physical Movement Enhances Student Learning Performances

Updated on October 15, 2012

Exercise the Right to Learn

Exercise the Right to Learn

by Eric J. Specht

School districts nationwide are removing physical education from the curriculum because it allegedly expends the school’s resources and interferes with academic performance. However, research indicates physical movements contain learning strategies that stimulate the brain, which ultimately enhances learning developments. School districts that support physical programs, such as health class, physical education, and recess provide students opportunity to release stress and achieve renewal. Furthermore, physical performance enhances knowledge because it increases blood flow and oxygen, creates new cell growth, and uses more of the brain than any cognitive activity claims. Of the many benefits physical movement contributes towards achieving learning progressions, two significant gains attained from exercises remarkably improves learning developments. Sensory motor functions and chemical functions are significant gains attained from physical activity because they enhance learning development and eliminate distress minds, considerable results that support and emphasize the importance of implementing exercises into the school curriculum.

Sensorimotor Learning

Sensorimotor learning uses sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch in conjunction with physical movement to empower whole brain function. Movement stimulates and improves the brain’s sensorimotor learning process because the brain, the senses, and the muscles share and exchange information, which improves the student learning developments. For example, if a student actively draws the perimeter of each of the fifty United States as oppose to merely labeling a premade map worksheet, the brain-based learning activity infuses sensory and motor functions, which permeates overall brain performance. As a result, the student will attain a memorable learning experience that will more effectively assist the learner to recall and attain more information than mere generalizations. Additionally, each physical movement becomes more efficient because the brain retains successful sensorimotor functions and eliminates unnecessary and counterproductive muscular movements that hinder performance (Liset, 2010), such as remembering to draw Florida’s panhandle, but eliminating the function to include all the bumps and curves that distinctively specify the shape. Another important sensorimotor function prompt by exercise is the release of neurotransmitters or chemicals that enhances mood (Jensen, pg. 38, 2008).

Chemical Functions

Students may also experience fatigue and academic challenges that disrupt academic achievements, but exercise may assist overcoming those adversities by increasing positive chemical functions. Gross motor skills release the chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter that improves memory and more importantly, a positive frame of mind (Jensen pg. 38, 2008). Norepinephrine is another chemical that assists with recalling information, but also prevents memory loss. Significantly, aerobic exercises trigger the release of adrenaline-noradrenaline hormones, which improves critical thinking, learning, and dealing with challenges (pg. 41). Exercise can also enhance cognition because it increases the chemical levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), stimulates neurons synapses or the chemical transmission of information, and increases transgression resistance hormones, which improve learning and mental performance. Overall, exercise benefits brain plasticity or the processes by which the brain circuitry function constantly changes due to influences prompt from physical activity (Berchtold, 2002).

Life Discrepancies

Students often experience life discrepancies that may cause stress that negatively encourages brain plasticity encumber their academic performance. Stress is an alarming concern because it derives from a broad range of variances: embarrassment, fear, anxiety, mistrusts, and physical or emotional danger that can cause detrimental learning impacts. Stress limits memory, disables critical thinking, disrupts academic attentiveness, creates misinterpretations, causes counterproductive behavioral regressions, and many other concerns. In more severe cases, the brain in distress leaves students susceptible to depression, weak immune system, and defiance, which may lead to chronic illnesses and behaviors that hinder learning endeavors (Jensen, pg. 43-45, 2008). However, the most construed fact about exercise in correlation with mentality is it assists reducing or eliminating stress, an essential traditional means to implement physical brain-based learning activities into the school curriculum.

The Road Ahead

Without physical education, health class, or recess students are not experiencing their brains full potential growth or learning capacity. Although school districts across the nation are removing physical education and recess to accommodate for new learning standards, physical movement should not be rejected from the curriculum in totality because evidence claims that exercise is a major role with students attaining knowledge. Therefore, whatever road the school district decides to travel whether sustaining or extinguishing physical education, implementing physical movement into the classrooms will ensure opportunity for students to spread their wings and soar.


Berchtold, C. W. (2002, June n/a). Exercise: a behavioral Intervention to Enhance Brain Health and Plasticity . Retrieved from TRENDS in Neurosciences:

Jensen, E. (2008). Brain-Based Learning The New Paradigm of Teaching (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Liset, G. (2010, n/a n/a). Sensory motor learning: Developing a kinaesthetic sense in the throws . Retrieved from


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