Have you ever opted to walk or bike to work instead of driving and noticed increased alertness and overall performance? A University of Illinois Study, led by Dr. Chuck Hillman, found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise can lead to better cognition and memory, and higher scores on tests and examinations.
Using MRI, researchers scanned the brains of 9 and 10-year-olds–half of whom engaged in aerobic exercise like running and playing, and half who sat quietly prior to writing a test.
Not only did the active children fare better on the exam, the MR images producted a startling illustration of the difference between the active and non-active children; the brains of the active children were significantly active as well:
These images showed that the active children had more activity going on in the basal ganglila region of the brain, an area of the brain described as an ‘executive control’ centre, responsible for coordinating thoughts and actions.
To sum up the findings, the study’s researchers said it best: “The findings suggest that increased childhood aerobic fitness is associated with greater dorsal striatal volumes and that this is related to enhanced cognitive control. Because children are becoming increasingly overweight, unhealthy and unfit, understanding the neurocognitive benefits of an active lifestyle during childhood has important public health and educational implications.
To read more on the study click here.