Active Bodies/Active Brains: The Relationship Between Physical Engagement and Children’s Brain Development


  • Deborah A. Stevens-Smith Clemson University



brain research, integrated classrooms, physical activity


Educators often struggle daily with the issue of how to engage students for learning. Many instructional strategies are devoted to the concept of engagement to keep students interested and on task to enhance learning, but defining the term is difficult. Engagement may involve a combination of terms that relates to the effort of students when they devote themselves to purposeful activities (Krause & Coates, 2008). Advocates of physical engagement have known for years that movement enhances learning, but what has been missing is the research to support this belief. An increase in brain research now provides a definitive link connecting movement with the enhancement of learning. The purpose of this paper was to examine the relationship between physical engagement and the development of the mind–body connection, how physical engagement enhances that development, and the current research in the field that supports the construct.

Author Biography

Deborah A. Stevens-Smith, Clemson University

Professor, Eugene T Moore School of Education