The Science of Shaking the Sillies Out

Kids have limited attention spans and selective hearing. This we know. So why do we (I) get frustrated about this? I mean, honestly, talk about something that does absolutely nothing to improve a situation. Next time you’re trying to get them to pay attention to something, instead of yelling at them louder than you did the last time, how about having them jump around for four minutes.

A recent study has proved that there is something to “shaking the sillies out”.

Here’s how it went:

Researchers took 2nd graders and 4th graders and taught them a lesson for 50 minutes. Then every other day for three weeks, students either took a 10 minute inactive break where they learned about healthy living, or they performed an active, 4-minute FUNterval.

What is a FUNterval? A Fun Interval.

Interval training has been gaining a lot of steam for the past decade or so because of its ability to help people lose fat and increase cardiovascular health in as much time as it takes to wait in the drive-through lane at Starbucks.

Researchers set out to have these kids do four minutes of Fun Interval training to see how it impacted their classroom performance and behavior.

At the end of the student break, researchers found that when students performed the FUNterval they were more focused and attentive that when they participated in an inactive break.

Not terribly surprising, but nice to have some science to back it up.

So here is a quick, easy and fun way to get your kids moving, more focused and, if you do the FUNtervals with them, you’ll be getting some great exercise, too.

Each FUNterval is broken up into 20 second periods of exercise and 10 second of rest, and lasts for a total of only four minutes.

The entire program is available online but, here’s one example:


  1. Jump up to grab the popcorn bag out of the cabinet, and squat down to set it on the floor (20 seconds)
  2. 10 seconds rest
  3. Pop the popcorn by jumping up in the air and pretending to explode in the air (20 seconds)
  4. 10 seconds rest
  5. Squat down to scoop up the popcorn in a sack, and pretend to throw the sack over your shoulder (20 seconds)
  6. 10 seconds rest
  7. Deliver the popcorn to your friends by sprinting in place as fast as you can (20 seconds)
  8. 10 seconds rest
  9. Repeat one more time.

That’s it. Four minutes. It’s quick, intense, effective and now, can improve focus and attention in school age children. Have your kids do this three or four times a day and do it with them. That’s an additional 12-15 minutes of free, fun, effective exercise for you, too! Before you know it, you’ll be so much fitter and less frustrated you’re not even going to know what to do with yourself.

More info on FUNterval reasearch here