Kid Fit: Exercise Improves Kids’ Ability to Learn

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Tidewater Personal and Sports Performance Trainer Cody Morris talks with a high school football team during an assessment and challenge event at the Tidewater Performance Center.


Should teachers assign a little exercise to their students as homework? Parents – ever think about having your kids go outside and play after school before tackling math and science assignments?


According to article published in the ScienceDaily earlier this year, you should.


“Regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report,” according to the article.


While roughly one-third of children are considered overweight, the research suggested that these cognitive benefits would translate to fit children, too.


Read the entire article here.


The statement was based on a study that brought together 171 overweight children ranging in age from 7 to 11. The children were all considered sedentary when the study started.


“MRIs showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex — an area associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior — and decreased activity in an area of the brain that sits behind it,” according to ScienceDaily. “The shift forward appears consistent with more rapidly developing cognitive skills. And the more they exercised, the better the result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily.”


The children in the study raised their heart rates to 79 percent of their max through running games, hula hoops and jump ropes. That heart rate was considered “vigorous” for the study.


One of the researchers commented to ScienceDaily that “you cannot move your body withouth your brain.” As a result, “cognitive improvements likely resulted from the brain stimulation that came from movement rather than resulting cardiovascular improvements, such as increased blood and oxygen supplies. Animal studies have shown that aerobic activity increases growth factors so the brain gets more blood vessels, more neurons and more connections between neurons. Studies in older adults have shown exercise benefits the brain and (this) study extends the science to children and their ability to learn in school.”



The Tidewater Performance Center offers a variety of youth programs. Learn more here.


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