Intellectual Disabilities: Effects of Physical Activity on Academic Performance
Rardin, Katherine N.
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Research has been completed to show that physical activity has a positive effect on students' academic success. Little research has been done to show the effects of physical activity on students with intellectual disabilities' academic success. A qualitative descriptive questionnaire was used to examine the effects of daily physical activity on students with intellectual disabilities' academic success. The study took place at a rural Midwest school district and the students of focus in this study included students who are identified with an intellectual disability and range from grade Kindergarten through grade five. Special educators, general educators and a parent/guardian involved in the students' lives completed the questionnaire and shared information and thoughts on students' level of activity and the effects of daily physical activity on students with intellectual disabilities' academic success. The participants indicated that students were physically active on average five days a week and for 30-60 minutes a day. Results were mixed, but some demonstrated that immediately after physical activity students are sometimes tired, overly stimulated, hyperactive, irritable, and difficult to calm down. Academic tasks after a physical activity can be difficult to focus on and students need a period of time to transition back into the classroom setting. Positive results included it was helpful for some students to burn off excess energy and contribute to focusing, and that some students were happier after the activity.