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Are Fit Kids Smarter?
August 2011
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Another Reason for Kids to Stay in Shape

Strong_KidHow important is it that kids engage in physical activity? Very, according to a recent study published in the journal, Brair Research. Kids that are more physically active tend to have a better-developed brain, which in turn helps them perform better on memory tests.

The study involved 49 children, ages 9 and 10, who ran on a treadmill to measure their oxygen intake, a standard measure of fitness. Subsequent magnetic resonance imaging data of the children found that the more physically fit kids tended to have a larger hippocampus—about 12 percent bigger, relative to total brain size—than their out-of-shape peers and outperformed them on relational memory tests. The hippocampus is known to be important in learning and memory.

The new findings suggest that interventions to increase childhood physical activity could have an effect on brain development. “We knew that experience and environmental factors and socioeconomic status all impact brain development,” says Art Kramer, the University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute director who led the study. “It’s not easy to do something about your economic status, but here’s something that we can do something about.”


Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2010