Exercise can boost a child’s memory and learning abilities, not just their fitness.
Physical activity in children can boost their memory and learning abilities
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign claim that physical fitness in children can have a positive impact on their mental capacity, particularly when initially learning a task that is more challenging.
The team analysed a total of 48 youngsters aged nine and 10 over a three-day period, during which time they were made to perform a variety of tasks.
A test was carried out on the first day to measure the children’s aerobic fitness. During the second day they were required to memorize names and locations on two different maps.
Finally, on the third day, they had to complete memory tests and were asked to refrain from any physical activity.
The results of the memory tests showed that the group who were in the top 30% for their level of fitness performed significantly better compared with those who were in the lowest 30%.
In addition, the findings suggest that higher levels of fitness have the greatest impact in the most challenging situations.
“Interestingly, fitness differences interacted with initial learning strategy,” explained the researchers. “With higher fit children outperforming lower fit children in recall of the regions learned using the study only condition, while higher and lower fit children performed similarly in recall of the regions learned using the test-study condition.”