A child’s level of physical activity and their weight could affect their learning and thinking skills, according to a new study.
The study involved 45 kids of normal weight and 45 kids considered overweight from ages 7 to 11. Twenty four of the 45 normal-weight kids were active, which means they partook in organized activities like gymnastics, swimming, dance, or soccer, for at least one hour each week.
Kids of normal weight and who were active had lower body fat percentages and a lower resting heart rate than the kids who were inactive and/or overweight. In addition, researchers found the active kids of normal weight also scored better on mental skills tests, such as those that test paying attention and planning, than inactive kids.
The study verified that being physically active influences brain function. This study’s results are positive in several ways. First, it’s easy to increase activity levels in kids. Second, cutting empty calories and increasing physical activity can help kids grow into their weight while achieving better brain function.
The study focused on weight, and not on body fat percentages, which could be more accurate. Future studies should include overweight, active kids to examine whether they see the same mental benefits of physical activity.