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Should lessons take place on treadmills?

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Want to tackle the increasing levels of childhood obesity? How about the issue of kids struggling academically? Why not

Kids who took part in the Learning Readiness program read half-a-year ahead of their peers who opted out of the program.

kill two birds with one stone? A school in Chicago has found that physical exercise can actually help with studies – ah, jocks and nerds, brought together at last. The dawn of a new peace.

Naperville High School students can opt to skip the register and hop straight onto a treadmill, the idea being that a bit of physical education immediately before sitting down at a desk helps kids to pay attention (rather than carving their name into the table and staring out of the window) and they’ve got the research to back it up.

In reading comprehension, kids who took part in the Learning Readiness program read half-a-year ahead of their peers who opted out of the program. Similarly, getting a sweat going before tackling some pre-algebra helped kids improve two to four times more than their fellow students.

It’s hard to argue with the stats, although the question remains whether keen students who are already solid academically are more likely to take part in programmes like this. But where we really come into trouble is with the cost. Naperville already boasts a pretty impressive gym set-up, full of rows upon rows of running machines and the like. Which we don’t have to tell you isn’t the case for all schools (mine barely had enough non-deflated basketballs to go around).

Naperville’s a fairly affluent area, and the school will probably do alright when it comes to budget cuts, but you can’t say the same of lower-income areas. Reports on the Learning Readiness program highlight how it’s helped students who are struggling academically, but what if those students haven’t got access to shiny gym equipment like those in Illinois?

It’s certainly a nice idea – and it’s proven to work! – but it’s unlikely to catch on everywhere.

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