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Walking to school will boost brain development in children

By Jay McClung     Jul 28, 2013 in Health
Evidence is continuing to mount that walking and exercise will boost intelligence and improve learning skills in children.
Researchers now have evidence that physical activity during the early stages of growth will activate nerve cells and aid in healthy brain development. Scientists aren’t suggesting that parents enroll their children in a fitness club but, rather, having children engage in physical activity at home or around the neighborhood will suffice. Even a simple activity such as walking to school has shown to provide adolescent girls with a cognitive boost.
According to researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University, children who engaged in daily aerobic exercise improved their mathematic performance and experienced a small boost their IQ. The GHSU team discovered that girls who spent more than 15 minutes walking or biking to school outperformed other girls in verbal ability, numeric ability, and overall cognitive performance. Oddly enough, this same type of activity did not change test results for boys. Researchers believe this lack of growth and change is due to boys being more active as adolescents.
Overall, researchers have found that highly active kids performed better on tests of attention and cognitive control. Children who exercise regularly showed more mature, adult-like brain activity patterns. Dr. Gwen Dewar, a biological anthropologist and creator of the Parenting Science website, believes that, “higher levels of aerobic exercise boost intellectual performance by helping kids focus, and maybe we can help inactive children by making physical exercise a more natural part of their everyday lives.” Palma Chillón, researcher in the Department of Physical and Sports Education of the University of Granada, concurs with Dr. Dewar and states that, “Inactive adolescents could be missing out on a very important stimulus to improve their learning and cognitive performance."
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