Fit Kids and Better Language Skills

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Oct 1, 2014

Evidence is mounting that fit kids perform better than their unfit peers on a variety of learning tasks.

In a study conducted recently at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, researchers evaluated children as they performed reading and language comprehension exercises while wearing electrode caps. Fitness levels varied among the children, and these devices allowed the scientists to evaluate brain activity.

“Children who are physically fit have faster and more robust neuro-electrical brain responses during reading than their less-fit peers,” the researchers concluded.

Study author Charles Hillman, PhD, professor in the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said in a university news release, “Our study shows that the brain function of higher fit kids is different, in the sense that they appear to be able to better allocate resources in the brain towards aspects of cognition that support reading comprehension.” He added, “Now, whether that difference is caused by fitness or maybe some third variable that affects both fitness and language processing, we don’t know yet.”

More research is recommended to determine the underlying mechanisms for the links between fitness and healthy brain function.

The study appeared in Brain and Cognition (2014; 87, 140-52).

PHOTOGRAPHY: Arianne

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Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.

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