Aerobic fitness boosts learning, memory in 9-10-year-old children

September 11, 2013

Physical fitness can boost learning and memory in children, particularly when initial learning on a task is more challenging, according to research published September 11 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Lauren Raine and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Forty-eight children aged nine to ten were asked to memorize names and locations on a fictitious map, either only by studying the information or being tested on the material as they studied. Half the children were in the top 30% of their age group on a test measuring aerobic fitness, while the other half scored in the lowest 30 percent. When asked to recollect the information studied, children who were fitter performed better than those who were not as fit.

The difference between the high-fitness and low-fitness groups was also stronger when the initial learning was performed by studying alone than when testing and study were interspersed. Previous studies have suggested that combining testing and study improves later recall in children, and is less challenging than studying alone. Based on these results, the authors suggest that may influence learning differently when the study method used is more challenging, and that higher levels of can benefit in school-age children. They conclude, "Future research should focus on the manner in which these factors impact the of children during learning."

In addition, the study suggests these findings may be important from an educational policy perspective. As the authors state, "Reducing or eliminating physical education in schools, as is often done in tight financial times, may not be the best way to ensure educational success among our young people."

More information: Raine LB, Lee HK, Saliba BJ, Chaddock-Heyman L, Hillman CH, et al. (2013) The Influence of Childhood Aerobic Fitness on Learning and Memory. PLoS ONE 8(9): e72666. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072666

Related Stories

Foot, knee and hip pain a problem in obese children

October 16, 2012

feet, ankles, knees and hips - contributes to both poor physical function and a reduced quality of life in obese children, according to a new study by Dr. Sharon Bout-Tabaku and colleagues, from Nationwide Children's Hospital ...

Fit kids finish first in the classroom

December 6, 2012

Fit kids aren't only first picked for kickball. New research from Michigan State University shows middle school students in the best physical shape outscore their classmates on standardized tests and take home better report ...

Aerobic exercise boosts brain power

December 13, 2012

The physical benefits of regular exercise and remaining physically active, especially as we age, are well documented. However, it appears that it is not only the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too. The evidence ...

Exercise may reduce the risk of epilepsy later in life for men

September 4, 2013

New research suggests that men who exercise vigorously as young adults may reduce their risk of developing epilepsy later in life. The study is published in the September 4, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

Recommended for you

New weapon in the fight against malnutrition

August 4, 2015

UBC scientists have opened the doors to new research into malnutrition by creating an animal model that replicates the imbalance of gut bacteria associated with the difficult-to-treat disease.

Can four fish oil pills a day keep the doctor away?

July 7, 2015

Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the U.S. because of the perceived cardiovascular benefits of the omega-3 it contains. However, scientific findings on its effectiveness have been conflicting. New ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lorentz Descartes
1 / 5 (5) Sep 12, 2013
Fat children are a disgrace. How many times a day must a parent have told their kids to stop running, jumping, playing etc to get them to that state? It's so natural for kids to want to MOVE.

Worse, often parents do this because they are concerned for the health of the child, afraid of accidents. A life within a body programmed for obesity and chronic disease is so much worse than a few scrapes, or even a broken limb.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.