Fitness exercise boosts brainpower and attention span, revealed by researchers in the journal Pediatrics. 221 children were randomly assigned to either a 9-month after school physical activity program or a wait-list.
The researchers then tracked their aerobic fitness and tested their cognitive flexibility and attention span while performing a series of tasks. Those in the physical activity group got at least 70-minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, as well as a healthy snack, a rest period and time for less demanding game-play.
The results? The key implication according to the study authors is that participating in a daily, after school physical activity program enhances executive control.
Executive control consists of skills including:
– being able to resist distractions,
– the ability to develop habits to maintain focus,
– working memory,
– and cognitive flexibility.
The researchers say these findings are especially important for educators and policy makers to consider in a time when gym classes and recess are being reduced or cut completely.