Children who play vigorously for 20 to 40 minutes daily might be making
their brains as well as their bodies stronger, shows a latest study that
highlights why physical activities are essential for

Researchers from the
Medical College of Georgia in the US divided 163 overweight children aged seven
to 11 into three groups and observed them for three

While the first group
did no physical activity after school, the second group did 20 minutes of
vigorous physical activity five days a week after school. The third group did 40
minutes of such activity on those same days, reported the online edition of USA

The activity groups
played intermittent, high-energy running games, such as flag tag, relays, jump
rope and modified basketball. They wore heart-rate monitors and were rewarded
for maintaining a high average heart rate.

Students also were given
cognitive-function tests at the beginning and end of the study. They were tested
for their mathematics and reading achievements and executive

Executive function
includes skills important for planning and organizing, focusing on schoolwork,
resisting impulses, self-monitoring and using strategies to achieve goals.

The scientists found that the
children in the 40-minute activity group had significant improvement on an
executive-function test compared with the other groups.

They increased about four
points on a cognitive-performance scale. Those in the 20-minute group showed
about half that improvement. There was a small improvement in mathematics
achievement for both exercise groups but no signs of improvement in

The researchers also
performed brain scans and found that the children who were exercising appeared
to have more neural activity in the frontal areas of their brains – an important
area for executive function. Those in the exercise groups also lost about one to
two percent of body fat.

Via Times of India