Does your child have difficulty concentrating? A little exercise could help…
Children should spend at least one hour a day being active to boost their concentration, new research has revealed.
The research by the University of Illinois examined 221 children, aged seven to nine years. Half were signed up to an after-school exercise group for nine months.
Tests found those placed on the active programme improved their accuracy on some mental capability tests by twice as much as those who were not assigned to do daily exercise.
Those in the exercise group wore heart-rate monitors and performed short bouts of exercise interspersed with rest over a two-hour period.
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The children were active about 70 minutes per day and, as expected, fitness increased most in the intervention group over the course of the study.
Children in the exercise group also demonstrated substantial increases in ‘attentional inhibition’ – a measure of their ability to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand – and ‘cognitive flexibility’, which involves switching between intellectual tasks while maintaining speed and accuracy.
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The children in the exercise group improved twice as much as their peers in terms of their accuracy on cognitive tasks.
The study also found that children with greater attendance at the programme had greater changes in brain function and cognitive performance.
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Lead researcher Dr Charles Hillman added that efforts to improve child health should focus on group activities, as a good way to improve fitness and mental skills.
‘The fact is that kids are social beings; they perform physical activity in a social environment,’ he said.
Does your little one get enough exercise? Let us know in the comments box below.