While regular physical activity is vital for keeping a child lean and healthy, a new US study finds that it can even boost learning and memory, especially when tasks are challenging.
In research published September 11 in the open access journal Plos One, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enlisted 48 children between the ages of nine and ten years old. Children were asked to memorize names and locations on a fictitious map, with some children studying the information while another group was tested on the material as they studied.
After performing treadmill tests, the subjects were also divided by aerobic fitness. Half of the children scored in the top 30 percent of their age group while the other half scored in the lowest 30 percent -- kids who fell in between were not included in the study. Findings showed that when asked to recollect the information studied, the fitter children outperformed their less fit counterparts, even when researchers controlled for factors such as socioeconomic status.
A separate Danish study from last year found that cycling or walking to school increases a child's ability to concentrate in the classroom. Children who were driven to school, or who took public transport, performed less well in a test measuring concentration levels than those who had walked or cycled, a joint study by researchers at the universities in Copenhagen and Aarhus found.
Access the new study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0072666#pone-0072666-t001
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