Children can boost their memory and learning capabilities by improving their physical fitness especially in tasks that are more challenging, researchers say.
Fitness may improve ability to learn
A US study involved 48 children aged nine or 10 years old and was led by Lauren Raine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The report began by analysing the aerobic fitness of the children which involved an oxygen consumption test as the children used a treadmill. On the second day the children were asked to memorise places and names on two separate maps.
The third day consisted of the children completing memory tests and they were asked to not undertake any rigorous physical activity. Two tests were administered, with one being deemed more difficult than the other.
By studying the data the researchers discovered that half of the children were in the top 30% of fitness for their age group, while the other half scored in the lowest 30%.
The results of the memory tests compared to the fitness ability of the children showed that those with a higher level of fitness performed significantly better than their less fit schoolmates.
The authors of the study said: "The current findings indicate that interspersed testing and study as well as higher levels of aerobic fitness benefits learning and memory.
“Interestingly, fitness differences interacted with initial learning strategy, with higher fit children outperforming lower fit children in recall of the regions learned using the study only condition, while higher and lower fit children performed similarly in recall of the regions learned using the test-study condition."
An estimated 40% of the children in the UK are thought to be either overweight or obese.
The data from the study also suggests that having a higher level of fitness may have the best impact when learning in more challenging situations.
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