In looking at the connection between fitness and brain health for kids, researchers discovered that 4- to 6-year-old children who walked farther on a timed walking test did better on cognitive exams and other measures of brain function than less fit peers.

“Preschool children with higher estimated cardiorespiratory fitness had higher scores on academic ability tasks related to general intellectual abilities as well as their use of expressive language,” said lead study author Shelby A. Keye, doctoral student in kinesiology and community health at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “They had better performance on computerized tasks requiring attention and multitasking skills, and they showed the potential for faster processing speeds and greater resource allocation in the brain when completing these computerized tasks.”

The study, conducted with 59 preschool-aged children, was associative and did not establish a causal link between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive abilities.

The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (2021; 10 [4]).

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