Could Your Kids Intelligence be Impacted by Exercise? July 19, 2011.

I recently read an article written by Gretchen Reynolds titled “The Fittest Brains:  How Exercising Affects Kids’ Intelligence.” Needless to say, I was intrigued. Reynolds discusses a number of studies that conclude that aerobic exercise may actually enlarge some key portions of an adolescent’s brain. Specifically, researchers studied the hippocampus and the basal ganglia, both responsible for complex thinking. Here are some key highlights from Reynold’s article:

“In an experiment published last month, researchers recruited schoolchildren, ages 9 and 10, who lived near the Champaign-Urbana campus of the University of Illinois and asked them to run on a treadmill . . . (M.R.I.’s) showed that fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and ‘executive control,’ or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply.”

“At the University of Illinois, a second group of 9- and 10-year old children were also categorized by fitness level . . . the fittest children had heftier hippocampi.”

“The two studies did not directly overlap, but the researchers, in their separate reports, noted that the hippocampus and the basal ganglia regions interact in the human brain, structurally and functionally. Together they allow some of the most intricate thinking. If exercise is responsible for increasing the size of these regions and strengthening the connection between them, being fit in young people may ‘enhance neurocognition.'”

“The researchers suspect that aerobic exercise, not strength training, produces specific growth factors and proteins that stimulate the brain.”

To read the article in its entirety click here. If you take away anything from this article, keep your kid moving!

Stay Strong and Healthy,

Peter Holmes


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