Friday, October 11, 2013

Fit kids learn better--maybe

Conventional wisdom has it that exercise increases brain power. But how about just being fit--will that improve the performance of kids in school? Say, your kid?

One study of 12,000 Nebraska schoolchildren (J of Pediatrics) each child was measured for fitness (timed run, BMI, and achievement scores). Better fitness seemed to be linked to significantly higher achievement scores. Body size, surprisingly, did not come into it. (In other words, fat kids were not stupider.)

Then some researchers at the Univ of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, found 24 fit and 24 unfit 9 and 10-yr-olds of both genders to work on some memorization tasks.

Since studies show kids learn best if they are reinforced with quizzes and repetition along the way, they had a test like that and another one with straight memorization of some maps of fictional countries, each with a four-letter name. (How do they come up with this stuff--I always wonder.) The country, name, and correct location were shown to the kids who tried to memorize them.

Then they were asked to correctly label and place the "countries."

Both the fit and unfit did the same when there was "testing" along the way. But when it was straight memorization, 40% of the fit kids did it right, and only 25% of the less fit.

I dunno--sometimes these studies get so complicated, I glaze over. What do you think? To me this does not necessarily mean the fit kids could do it the hard way--maybe that was their learning style, who knows.

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