Originally published Sept. 12, 2022 by CodeList.biz.

Schoolchildren who exercise are smarter and perform better academically

The healthiest and smartest children. Is it possible to make humans smarter? The traditional belief has been that intelligence is a predominantly stable characteristic of the human being, that is, a person is born intelligent and is intelligent throughout his life and vice versa.

However, in recent years this conception has begun to change, considering that intelligence may be more modifiable than previously believed.

Numerous benefits of regular physical exercise are known at a physical, mental and cognitive level in people at any age, but to date there has been no conclusive evidence that physical exercise practiced on a regular basis can improve people’s intelligence.

Now, a study led by researchers from the Department of Physical and Sports Education at the University of Granada, in collaboration with Psychology researchers from the same university and external national and international collaborators, has shown that schoolchildren who exercise are smarter and perform better. more academically.

Stage of growth and cognitive and brain development

His work, published this week by the prestigious JAMA Network Open magazine, has shown that in a stage of cognitive and brain growth and development such as childhood, physical exercise practiced regularly for almost half a year improves intelligence at a general level, and especially crystallized intelligence, which is the type of intelligence associated with verbal vocabulary and knowledge acquired throughout life in and outside of school.

In addition, the exercise program also significantly improved cognitive flexibility, which is a person’s mental ability to adapt to changing tasks or rules, hold multiple concepts simultaneously, and shift attention between different tasks/rules. It is important to note that the exercise program also improved total academic performance, with mathematics and problem solving being the most enhanced abilities.

Do not punish them by not going out to play or do physical exercise, or withdrawing them from an extra-curricular sports activity, but just the opposite
“From here comes a very important message for mothers and fathers: if your children do not have a good academic performance, do not punish them by not going out to play or do physical exercise, or withdraw them from an extra-curricular sports activity, but just the opposite”, says Francisco Ortega, professor at the University of Granada and researcher responsible for the study.

60 minutes a day of exercise

“We must try to guarantee a minimum of daily physical exercise, ideally 60 minutes a day of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, including at least 3 days a week high-intensity physical activity and that which stimulates muscle and bone strengthening as recommended the World Health Organization (WHO)”, says the UGR professor, who participated in 2020 in the preparation of these WHO physical activity recommendations.

It is important to understand that overweight and obesity are a health problem of the first order in the developed and developing world, being especially worrying in Spain, one of the countries that leads the ranking of overweight/obesity in Europe where 1 out of 3 children have this condition. Obesity has negative effects on health at a general level and more recently it has been observed that it also has a cognitive and cerebral level.

Physical exercise against the negative effects of obesity at a cognitive and academic level

“This study has important implications for this population exposed to higher risks”, says José Mora, professor at the Department of Physical and Sports Education at the University of Granada, since “this study shows that physical exercise is an effective tool to counteract the negative effects of obesity at the cognitive and academic levels”.

Finally, the UGR researchers point out that the type of physical exercise performed in this study is transferable to the school environment. It was based on group games, without advanced equipment, which involved running on an outdoor track and strength work with one’s own body weight and with partners. All this was done at a relatively high intensity, with the average intensity of the entire session being around 70% of the maximum heart rate of the children, who trained an average of 3 sessions per week of 90 minutes each, which would add 4.5 hours per week.

Against sedentary lifestyle

“If we managed to increase the number of hours of physical education to 1 hour a day, that is, 5 hours a week, as is already done in other European countries and is being demanded in Spain, we could improve the physical and mental health of schoolchildren, and as this study shows, their intelligence, cognitive and academic performance”, concludes Francisco Ortega.

The results of this research have been presented this week by the UGR professor at the European Congress of Sports Science, the most important conference on Sports Science in Europe, which is being held in Seville. The healthiest and smartest children.

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