School & District Management

Students Who Get Moving Boost Memory, Study Finds

By Sarah D. Sparks — September 11, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Cross-posted from Bryan Toporek of Schooled in Sports.

Higher levels of aerobic fitness can bolster a child’s ability to learn and remember information, according to a new study published online today in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Forty-eight 9- and 10-year-old children (26 females, 22 males) participated in the study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which required them to learn the names of specific regions on two separate maps. The children were separated into higher-fitness and lower-fitness groups (24 children each) based on their performance on a VO2max test, which measures aerobic fitness.

The study participants initially learned the information on each of the two maps in different ways: either strictly studying the map or interlacing studying with testing of the map’s regions and locations. The researchers discovered that overall, the interspersed-studying-and-testing method helped children of all fitness levels learn and retain the information better than the studying-only method.

When it came to fitness, the higher-fit children outperformed lower-fit children in terms of recalling map regions learned using the study-only condition. However, higher- and lower-fit children performed similarly in recall of the regions learned using the test-study condition, the researchers found.

“These data might be interpreted to suggest that higher levels of fitness have their greatest impact in the most challenging situations,” the study authors opine.

The researchers also observed no differences in terms of initial learning between the higher- and lower-fit study participants, providing “important boundary conditions on fitness effects on cognition.” In essence, while a child’s initial ability to learn information may not be affected by their fitness level, his or her ability to recall that information later appears directly correlated with their aerobic fitness.

Based on their findings, the authors suggest that education policymakers shouldn’t be so quick to eliminate physical activity from the school day.

“Reducing or eliminating physical education in schools, as is often done in tight financial times, may not be the best way to ensure educational success among our young people,” they say.

These findings mesh with previous research, such as a December 2012 study from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, which found that middle school students in prime physical shape were able to outperform their overweight and obese peers both on tests and grades. A June 2012 study published in the journal Child Development also found students who were persistently obese throughout elementary school performed significantly worse on math tests than their peers of healthy weight.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Letter to the Editor School Mask Mandates: Pandemic, ‘Panicdemic,’ or Personal?
"A pandemic is based on facts. A 'panicdemic' is based on fears. Today, we have both," writes a professor.
1 min read
School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP
School & District Management Opinion 'Futures Thinking' Can Help Schools Plan for the Next Pandemic
Rethinking the use of time and place for teachers and students, taking risks, and having a sound family-engagement plan also would help.
17 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion The Consequence of Public-Health Officials Racing to Shutter Schools
Public-health officials' lack of concern for the risks of closing schools may shed light on Americans' reticence to embrace their directives.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty