Super Movers: Schoolchildren performed better in tests after exercise initiative from the Premier League and BBC

  • 77% of participating schools noted an improvement in brain function and learning in pupils after exercise
  • Exercise improved mood of all children in the study
  • Brain speed improved by up to 19% after exercise
  • Improved mood led to improved brain speed after exercise – most notable for boys
  • Not having breakfast resulted in poor memory

A study involving more than 1,000 schoolchildren has found a link between exercise and improved brain power.

Researchers from Loughborough University looked at the impact of physical activity on behaviour and classroom achievement among primary youngsters from 17 schools across the UK.

All of the children, aged between 10 and 11 years old, were taking part in a joint BBC and Premier League exercise and education programme, called Super Movers.

They found that 77% of the schools that took part in the scheme reported an improvement in brain function and learning in their pupils after exercise.

The mood of the children also improved after physical activity.

Professor Eef Hogervorst, of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, said: “We tested the Super Movers exercise programme and compared it against normal classroom activities in 17 schools.

“The study showed that the Super Movers programme improved brain speed – up to an average of 19% – and mood, from okay to feeling very good, significantly in children.

“This has a big impact on their learning and other activities in the classroom.  

“What is good for the heart is good for the brain.

"However, one other thing we found is that not having breakfast resulted in poor memory.”

The school children were split into two groups - a group that exercised and a group that did not.

The exercise group completed 50 minutes of physical activity - including circuit-style training and choreography copied from Super Movers active classroom resources - and then performed a series of cognitive tasks to establish if the exercise helped boost their attention span and improve their learning, compared to their classmates who did no physical activity.

Findings from the study indicated that brain speed, the ability to process information and apply it to tasks, increased by up to 19% after exercise.

Physical activity also significantly improved mood in all the children who exercised, with twice as many boys in the exercise group showing a clear link between improved mood and increased brain speed compared to the non-exercise control group.

Prof Eef Hogervorst said: “The nationwide experiment has yielded some really encouraging results and shows that with less than an hour of enjoyable physical exercise in a day, we can see some real improvements to children’s learning.

“It has long been established that exercise can boost brain function, but to see such significant results across the board confirms that fun exercise, like the Super Movers resources, can make a real difference.”

Super Movers is a BBC and Premier League initiative which helps teachers inspire primary school children to get more active and boost their learning throughout their school day.

The schools that took part were:

  • Fairfield Road Primary School and Button Lane Primary School, Manchester
  • Eastfield Primary School, Hull
  • Green Lane Primary and Nursery School, Kingston
  • Tweedmouth Community Middle School, Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • St John's CE (VA) J & I School, Huddersfield
  • Bantock Primary School, Wolverhampton
  • St Peters C of E Primary School, Bristol
  • Balfour Primary School, Brighton
  • St. James' Church of England Primary Academy, Bournemouth
  • Linn Primary School, Larne
  • St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, Southampton
  • Forest Lodge Academy, Leicester
  • Plantation Primary School and Nursery, Liverpool
  • Mount Florida Primary School and Nursery Class, Glasgow
  • Radnor Primary School and Herbert Thompson Primary School, Cardiff


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/17

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey and named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018.
Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2019, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2019. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.
Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.
The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.
It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.