The Walking Classroom: Measuring the Impact of Physical Activity on Student Cognitive Performance and Mood

J Phys Act Health. 2021 May 28;18(7):818-825. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2020-0263. Print 2021 Jul 1.


Background: The Walking Classroom is an education program that provides students with an opportunity to accumulate physical activity without losing instructional time.

Method: This research tests Kuczala's application of kinesthetic learning theory through measuring knowledge retention, postactivity information processing, and mood in students who engage in a short bout of physical activity while listening to Walking Classroom podcasts about language arts, science, and history, and those who remain seated during a podcast, compared with baseline levels. Students from 9 high-poverty fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms (n = 319) in a North Carolina county comprised the sample.

Results: Utilizing multivariate analysis of covariance, the results demonstrate significantly higher levels of learning while walking compared with learning while sitting. Measures of mood utilizing the 10-item version of the Positive and Negative Affect Scale also demonstrated a significant effect in predicted directions.

Conclusion: The results support that coupling physical activity with instruction leads to increased performance and mood for elementary school students.

Keywords: elementary school; learning; student behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Students*
  • Walking*