School Climate & Safety Report Roundup

Fitness and Learning

By Kathryn Baron — October 07, 2014 1 min read
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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.

A version of this article appeared in the October 08, 2014 edition of Education Week as Fitness and Learning

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