Physical activity enhances children's learning ability

( ) Updated: 2014-09-04 14:43:49

Physical activity not only has positive effects on children's physical health, but also boosts children's cognitive prerequisites of learning, suggested researchers from University of Jyvaskyla in a latest study.

The study, published by the open access scientific journal PLOS ONE, examined how objectively measured and self-reported physical activity and sedentary behavior are associated with cognitive functions in school-age children.

A total of 224 children from five schools in the Jyvaskyla school district of Finland participated in the study.

The researchers measured the children's physical activity and sedentary time objectively for seven consecutive days, and evaluated their self-reported physical exercises and screen time (time spent on computer, TV and games).

In addition, the children's cognitive functions including visual memory, executive functions, attention and internal reliability were evaluated with a computerized Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery by using five different tests.

The result showed that a high level of objectively measured physical activity is associated with good performance in the attentional reaction time test. On the contrary, self-reported computer/video game play was negatively associated with working memory, whereas computer use was associated with weak shifting and flexibility of attention.

The positive effects of physical activity may be due to the fact that physical exercise promotes brain blood circulation and oxygen supply, as well as increases cardiovascular function that benefits attentional processes, the researchers explained.

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