Fitness and Learning
"Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Function"
Elementary school children who exercised for about an hour a day in an after-school program had better brain function and were more focused in class than students who didn't get much physical activity, according to a study published last week in the journal Pediatrics.
In the nine-month study of 7- to 9-year olds, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign randomly assigned 221 students to either a two-hour, after-school fitness program or to a waiting list for the program.
All the children were tested before and after the period of the study on such cognitive and executive-control tasks as memory, multitasking, and ability to resist distractions. In the after-school program, students took part in moderate to vigorous activities, such as tag, soccer, or dribbling a basketball through an obstacle course, while wearing heart-rate monitors and pedometers.
The researchers found that the program students improved twofold compared with the wait-listed students in their accuracy on cognitive tasks. The authors also saw changes in students' brain function—as well as improvements in fitness and school attendance.
Vol. 34, Issue 07, Page 5Published in Print: October 8, 2014, as Fitness and Learning