After school exercise and activity not only help boost kids’ physical fitness but can also improve their cognitive abilities, a new study suggests.
Kids who undertook an after school exercise program were shown to improve their accuracy on cognitive tasks by double compared to kids who did not partake in the program, according to the study published in the journal, Pediatrics.
Researchers examined 221 kids, between the ages of seven and nine, over a nine month period. The kids were assigned at random to either an afterschool exercise program, called FITKids, or to a wait-list group that acted as the control. All of the kids participating were given both cognitive testing and brain imaging before and after the study.
The kids in the exercise group wore heart-rate monitors and pedometers and took part in short sessions of exercise broken up with rest breaks over a two-hour period. Over the course of the study, the exercise group increased fitness by 6% compared to the wait-list group who increased by only 1%.
The researchers also discovered prevalent changes in brain function in relation to cognitive tasks and cognitive processing speed which were significantly greater in the exercise group than in the wait-list group.