Exercise improves memory, even with the kids!

Youngster's effort in climbing a wall to reach the top

OK, summer’s over and school is back in session! For the kids, this means a new grade level and new things to learn.  We want our kids to do well and be healthy.  We hate to see them struggling in any part of school life (and life in general).  Want to help them with their learning abilities and memory?  Make sure exercise, a bout of moderate to intense physical activity during the school day, is added to the other things you do for and with them.

Exercise improves memory in children?!?  Really?  Yes!  Researchers at the University of North Carolina just published a study in the journal, Pediatric Exercise Science, that looked at the effect of a single bout of intense exercise on memory in 6th graders.  This is one of many different studies that have looked at the positive effects of exercise on cognitive performance … thinking, understanding, learning and remembering … in children. In this one, they divided the kids into 2 separate groups, one group exercised first and the other did not.  They were given verbal lists of words to learn.  They were also asked to recall the words after a time delay.  The results showed that the kids who exercised had significantly better learning of the word lists and significantly better recall of the words after a time delay.

In another study from the University of Illinois, the researchers looked at the role of childhood aerobic fitness in successful street crossing.  In the study, they did not have the kids race across a busy street, thank goodness.  They used walking on a treadmill inside a high-tech virtual world (that sounds like fun) and tested boys and girls in the 8 to 10 year range.  The results showed that the higher-fit children maintained street crossing success in all 3 areas tested  … undistracted, listening to music, or talking on a cell phone.

So, as summer winds down, let’s be sure to keep our kids physically activity.  Think moderate to vigorous activities that will serve them now, and throughout their lives.  Oh, and while the kids are at it, you should join in.  Aerobic exercise boosts brain function in adults too!

Back to school time. Busy time.  Happy time.  Stressful time.  Exercise improves memory and has a whole lot of other health benefits too.  OK folks, let’s get movin’!!

Additional Resources:

More on childhood fitness

Exercise and brain function in adults

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