22 Jul 2016
Intense exercise during school day can boost adolescent brain function, study shows
Sprint-based exercises introduced during the school day can sharpen pupil minds in the classroom, new research reveals.
A study by Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands, and Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, found that response times among adolescent pupils became significantly faster – but remained just as accurate – post-exercise.
The work, published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, saw 12 year-old pupils undertake 10 x 10 second sprints, interspersed by 50 seconds of walking, before requiring them to undertake classroom-based cognitive function tests.
Pupils also performed the tests without exercise as part of a ‘resting trial’.
The researchers found that pupils’ response times improved by about 5% when performing the ‘Stroop test’ following exercise. This test measures attention by challenging participants to respond with the colour a word is written in, rather than the word itself – for instance if the word ‘green’ is written in blue font, then blue is the correct response.
The effect was evident immediately after exercise – despite pupils reporting physical tiredness on a mood questionnaire – and remained 45 minutes after exercise.
The study was the first to examine the effects of sprint-based exercise on cognitive function among adolescents.
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