BRAIN BOOST

First News - - Science News -

TEACH­ING phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion (PE) to chil­dren ev­ery day in­creases brain size and im­proves aca­demic per­for­mance, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

Sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Granada in Spain found that kids who took part in ex­er­cise ac­tiv­ity for at least three evenings ev­ery week had more grey mat­ter (tis­sue) in areas of the brain linked to read­ing and ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Neu­roim­age, ex­am­ined the brains of 100 over­weight or obese chil­dren. Chil­dren with higher fit­ness lev­els achieved higher aca­demic re­sults and picked up knowl­edge bet­ter.

Fifty of the young­sters took part in fit­ness ex­er­cises. The more they ex­er­cised, the more their grey mat­ter in­creased. But there was no change in the brains of the 50 chil­dren who did no ex­tra ex­er­cise.

Pro­fes­sor Fran­cisco Ortega said: “Phys­i­cal fit­ness in chil­dren is linked in a di­rect way to im­por­tant brain struc­ture dif­fer­ences, and such dif­fer­ences are re­flected in the chil­dren’s aca­demic per­for­mance. I be­lieve that there is strong ev­i­dence sup­port­ing the need for PE ev­ery day.”

The re­searchers have called on politi­cians and teach­ers world­wide to take ac­tion and in­tro­duce more PE lessons into the school day.

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