Kids should move to boost their brains

It’s not a new concept that physical activity improves cognitive functioning.  But one of the most ambitious studies of physical activity and cognitive performance in children was published in the September issue of Pediatrics.  Researchers at the University of Illinois recruited 220 public school students for a year long study.  Half were used as a control group while the other 110 participated in a 2 hour session of fun, physical activity after school each day.  The researchers were most interested in executive functioning.  These are the cognitive skills which are most important for academic performance.   As would be expected the exercise group at the end of the year showed substantial improvements on each of the computerized, cognitive tests compared to the control group in addition to the expected gains in physical fitness.  Students who attended the most exercise sessions showed the greatest improvements in their cognitive scores.  I am going to make sure my kids are moving!