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Exercise Makes Kids Smarter

October 12, 2014
Plain English Version

Exercise for brains

Exercise seems to do everything. A recent article showed how it beat back depression.

A new study shows it makes kids smarter.

Scientists divided 8- and 9-year-old students into two groups in an after-school exercise program. There were 220 youngsters in the program. They were divided into two equal groups. One group was told they were on a “wait list” for the new program. They were to continue with their normal activities.

The other group was bused every afternoon to a college campus. They were told to let loose and enjoy normal activities. An expert said, “We wanted them to play.” The kids wore heart monitors and pedometers.

The play was guided. They played tag, soccer, and other games that were aerobic. The goal was to improve endurance and motor skills. The sessions were for two hours. The kids would run, rest and then start running again. All told, they played for about an hour and covered more than two miles. The program lasted for a full school year.

Both groups of children were tested. Not surprisingly, the test children were in better shape. They lost weight and body fat. The other kids did not change.

There were other big changes in the test group. They managed themselves better. They had “the ability to block out irrelevant information and concentrate on the task at hand.” These abilities are called cognitive skills.

The message is, “get kids to be physically active.” It will lead to what doctors call “brain health.” An expert said if you want your kids to do well in reading and math, make sure that they also move around a lot more.

Source: The New York Times October 8, 2014

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