4 ways to boost concentration skills with physical activity

A survey has found that most primary school teachers think children’s attention spans are getting shorter and classroom behaviour has deteriorated since before the Covid pandemic. 

So, what can you do to help your pupils to build up their attention spans?

Use physical activity to boost concentration

Studies have shown that children who are physically active have better attention spans than those who are not. 

Researchers discovered that students who took part in moderate physical exercise before taking a test that measured their attention spans performed better than those students who didn’t exercise.

Young people with higher levels of fitness also demonstrate superior concentration when compared with less fit children.

How does exercise improve attention span?

Having a regular physical activity routine helps build the brain’s ability to ignore distractions. Exercise also helps to increase blood flow to the brain. This in turn fires up your neurones and promotes cell growth, particularly in the hippocampus. Being active releases endorphins too, which have mood-boosting effects and can help to reduce stress and anxiety. All these factors can help boost attention spans.

A good night’s sleep is also essential for cognitive function. Exercise and being active improves sleep quality, meaning children are more likely to arrive at school rested and refreshed. 

How active do children need to be to improve attention span?

The amount of physical activity needed to improve attention span varies from child to child. However, most experts, including the Chief Medical Officer, recommend that children get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to- vigorous physical activity each day. This doesn’t need to be completed all in one go. Breaking it down to short active bursts throughout the day and encouraging children to be active outside of school makes this goal achievable. 

Just 20 minutes of exercise before studying can improve concentration and help children focus on learning. 

4 ways to improve attention span:

  • Add active bursts to the day. Short bouts of moderate physical activity have been proved to boost concentration and mood immediately following the exercise. 
  • Shake up the timetable. Consider adjusting the timetable so subjects requiring more thought or greater concentration levels take place after a break period and encourage active play during playtime so children arrive back in class reinvigorated and ready to learn.
  • Join a team. As well as building teamworking skills, there is some evidence that exercise which requires decision making can have added benefits in terms of building concentration as the brain is engaged during these kinds of activities. So team games like football and netball could be particularly beneficial.
  • Try mindfulness. Researchers have found that just 10 minutes of meditation a day can help improve focus and extend attention span and you can see improvements after just four days.

More information

Add active bursts to the school day with Fit for Life

Try out Team Up to help children manage their wellbeing

Comments are closed.