Exercise videos have positive impact on student experience and focus


Research suggests that a series of exercise videos for children produced by Hartpury University PhD student Alice Cline has had a positive impact on classroom behaviour and improved student focus. 

Alice initially designed the Busy Breaks videos – available free on YouTube – to help schools tackle the physical inactivity national crisis.

The videos have since come into their own during the national lockdown, with schools and parents looking for ways to get children active.

Alice has carried out an evaluation study, published in a special issue of the Children journal, that included interviews with teachers to assess the impact of the intervention.

Having received encouraging feedback from teaching staff as part of that study, she believes the videos will continue to provide support for teachers and parents facing the challenges of educating children at home during the latest lockdown.

The exercises featured in the Busy Brain Breaks videos are designed to give children a short break from lessons and improve movement and physical activity.

After introducing Busy Brain Breaks into their classroom, all 17 of the teachers interviewed identified that movement ability had improved as a result of the intervention, with co-ordination, balance and stability the areas to improve most.

Some teachers noted that physical activity outside of the intervention had also been positively impacted, with children talking more frequently about physical activity and practicing the exercises at home.

All the teachers noted that the intervention improved focus, which positively impacted time-on-task behaviour. Teachers also noted that the intervention had a positive impact on peer work, with children frequently giving each other feedback and encouragement.

The Busy Brain Breaks videos are part of Alice’s PhD research project looking at understanding, evaluating and improving fitness and activity levels of primary school children in Gloucestershire, to help shape future primary school interventions.

Alice Cline said: “The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, yet only one in five are meeting this target.

“Designing an intervention to be implemented inside the classroom is no easy task, as teachers are already faced with a heavy workload and busy schedule, but it has proved more successful than I could have ever imagined.

“Teachers observed that movement ability had developed as a result of the intervention and recognised co-ordination, balance and stability as areas that had noticeably improved.

“Teachers also noted that while children were quick to adopt Busy Brain Breaks largely due to enjoyment, the intervention also promoted inclusivity amongst the children who may not usually enjoy PE or other physical activities.

“This study would not have been possible without the co-operation of all the schools and teachers involved, so I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to them all for their support.”

Alice is planning to carry out further research to understand whether Busy Brain Breaks is capable of creating sustained behaviour change in the classroom.

For now, she hopes the exercise videos will continue to prove useful while children are being home-schooled during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, future research may benefit from exploring the use of digitally delivered physical activity in further detail,” she said.

“Technology has the potential to allow children to maintain physical activity levels at home, or to engage in physical activity at school whilst being able to maintain a social distance from their peers.”

Attached image: Alice Cline at Hartpury

Share this article