A program of regular exercise helped previously sedentary, overweight children to perform better on goal-oriented tasks and improved their mathematics ability, according to a study from the Georgia Prevention Institute at Georgia Health Sciences University.
In the study, published this month in Health Psychology, 171 children ages 7 to 11 were assigned to separate groups. One group got 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise in an after-school program, one group got 40 minutes a day of exercise, and another group got no exercise. The study found that the more exercise the students got, the more their brain activity increased in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with complex cognitive behaviors, moderating social behavior, and decisionmaking.
Results were measured after three months. Researchers are now testing the program for a whole school year.
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Exercise and Math Skills