Children Exercise More, Get Smarter? What Scientific Studies Reveal about the Impacts of Exercise on Children

Based on a reviewed paper which re-analyzes the results of 44 studies, the findings reveal that:

  1. In general, physical activity (any type) has a positive relation with children’s intellectual performance except memory tests.

  2. The effects can be seen after 3 weeks of daily physical activity for 15 minutes or daily regular physical education. 

  3. The largest intellectual gain from physical activity was perceptual skills (ability to receive, interpret, and respond to something through the senses), followed by creativity and concentration first, and then IQ scores. Math and verbal scores showed very little effect of enhancement.

  4. The researchers even address that physical activities “cause” the improvement in intellectual performance because the same results were also gained from a true experimental study.

  5. The findings show that “Middle school students (grades 5-8) and elementary age students received the most cognitive benefits from physical activity. It is possible that the larger effect for middle-school students may be related to the social anxiety that is uniquely evident for this age group. In addition, children in this age group have to go through puberty. Children must deal with an enormous amount of stress in middle school.” Hence, physical activity may benefit children by decreasing anxiety and enhancing self-esteem.

  6. The findings also show that physical activity is very important to the intellectual development of very young children (in this study, preschoolers) because they learn best by movement and active experience.     


Created on December 04 2015 at 04: 39 PM

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1: "The relationship between physical activity and cognition in children: a meta-analysis," Pediatric Exercise Science, 2003, by Sibley, B. A., & Etnier, J. L. . (Citations: 726).

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Children Exercise More, Get Smarter? What Scientific Studies Reveal about the Impacts of Exercise on Children

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