Improve Fine Motor Skills Using Physical Exercise

Recent research was conducted with neurotypical five-year-old children to determine how to improve fine motor skills using physical exercise.

Recent research was conducted with neurotypical five-year-old children to determine how to improve fine motor skills using physical exercise.

As pediatric therapists, we all know the importance of fine motor skill development and school. Whether it is using manipulatives, school supplies, writing or zipping up a backpack, efficient fine motor skills are necessary.

This study examined the benefits of full-body exercises and coordination activities to improve fine motor skills in children.

Methodology of the Study on Improving Fine Motor Skills Using Physical Exercise

This study included 52 neurotypical, 5 year old children.  Baseline testing was completed on all the participants.  The testing included hand grip strength, placing pegs, turning buttons, lacing beads, curved track test, transferring beans and a speed tapping test.

After baseline testing, the children were randomly divided into an experimental group or a control group.  The experimental group participated in 30 minute exercise session, 3x/week for 24 weeks.  The control group continued with their normal physical activity routines.

The exercise sessions consisted of the following:

  • warm up period
  • 10 meter running
  • crawling exercises
  • finger exercises
  • squeezing rubber rings
  • throwing bean bags
  • balance beam activities
  • pushing a tire
  • cool down period

Results of the Study on Improving Fine Motor Skills Using Physical Exercise

After statistical analysis the researchers reported the following:

  • no difference in baseline measurements between the two groups
  • hand dexterity improved significantly in the exercise session group
  • the exercise group showed significantly faster tapping speed when compared to the control group
  • significant improvements in hand grip strength in the exercise group

Did Physical Exercise Improve Fine Motor Skills?

The researchers concluded that the physical exercise sessions improved fine motor skills in neurotypical five year old children.  The exercise program had simple physical activities that could be easily implemented in a kindergarten program. 

Reference:  Qi, Y., Tan, S., Sui, M., & Wang, J. (2018). Supervised physical training improves fine motor skills of 5-year-old children. Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte24(1), 9-12.

Resources to help improve fine motor skills in children

Fantastic Fingers® Fine Motor Program is a comprehensive fine motor program that includes ebook, music, and instructional videos. It’s user-friendly, research-based, and improves children’s fine motor skills, pencil grip, posture and more.  It also integrates many early literacy and numeracy skills.

Hands First! Full Fine Motor Curriculum is unique among fine motor programs as it empowers therapists, caregivers and teachers to help preschool, kindergarten and first grade children develop fine motor abilities. Through fun and engaging lesson plans, Hands First Fine Motor Curriculum addresses a child’s foundational skills through fine motor and gross motor activities. Designed by Laurie Donovan, MA, OT/L and Alison Hales, OTD, MS, OTR/L , Hands First Fine Motor Curriculum is written in an easy to use format.

Recent research was conducted with neurotypical five-year-old children to determine how to improve fine motor skills using physical exercise.