Everyone intuitively decided long ago that kids and physical fitness go hand in hand. Now the New York Times Wellness Blog highlights parts of a University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana study that prove what everyone knew all a long.
How The Kids Fitness and Intelligence Experiment Began
The recruited school children were exercised in controlled environments where a treadmill was used. The treadmill was used to parallel previous studies with mice, exercise, and subsequent brain bulking. Children have immature brains that are still growing. In trying to understand how fitness plays a part in brain development, the researchers were found to be correct in their original speculations. MRI’s showed the fit children had a larger basal ganglia.
The basal ganglia is essential in the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts sharply. This is an area that promotes maintaining attention and focus on learning. The study was so tightly controlled against common variables such as class, income, and body mass that it was safe to conclude their findings were correct.
The Study Was Repeated and Found Even More Fitness and Intelligence Results
When a new study was conducted, the new focus was on complex memory. A new group of children performed the same fitness routines. Again, it was found that fitness equaled increased abilities in learning. In addition to fitness enlarging the basal ganglia, it also increased activity in the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is an internal part of the middle of the brain closer to the forehead. An increase in this area means an ability to recall details. For children, this means better test scores. Together, fitness was proven to create quicker learners and retainers of learning in the 4 th and 5 th graders.
Is Physical Education The Solution For Kids Test Scores?
With test scores falling across the country, the findings point toward fitness as a potential solution. While budgets may demand a decline in physical education programs, Centers for Disease Control states that 25% of children get no physical fitness outside of the education environment. However, environment where fitness takes place does seem to matter.
When deciding between amping up your kids fitness with a Wii or locking them in the backyard, choose the backyard. When video game exercise versus exercise outdoors was tested, they found better MRI results from outdoor exercise. While it is not yet clear why this may be the case, researchers are delighted to find that Mother Nature was, yet again, the most affordable solution.