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Sixty minutes of physical activity per day included within preschool academic lessons improves early literacy

Background: The effects of increases in physical activity (PA) on early literacy skills in preschool children are not known. Methods: Fifty-four African-American preschool children from a low socioeconomic urban Head Start participated over 8 months. A 2-group, quasi-experimental design was used with one preschool site participating in the PA intervention and a second site participating as the control site. The PA program was designed to promote 300 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous PA academic lessons. Academic achievement related to early literacy and phonological awareness in the areas of rhyming and alliteration were assessed at baseline, 4 and 8 months. Results: Over 8 months, rhyming significantly (p .01) improved in the PA group (173 +/-12%) compared with the controls (28+/-8%) resulting in between group differences at 8 months (p .01). Alliteration significantly (p .01) improved in the PA group (52+/-16%) compared with controls (13+/-5%), resulting in between group differences at 8 months (p .01). As minutes of exposure to moderate to vigorous PA increased, the change in picture naming (R[squared] =.35, p .05), alliteration (R[squared] =.38, p .05), and rhyming (R[squared] =.42, p .05), increased. Conclusion: A teacher-directed PA program is effective at increasing PA and improving early literacy. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers
United States

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