Originally published February 5 2011
Bike riding commute increases test scores
by Duke Mansell
(NaturalNews) A large study out of Spain suggests that an active commute to school can boost test scores. Physical activity has always been a staple of fitness and therefore healthy living, but many people simply assume children only need to exercise to maintain a healthy weight. All other studies surrounding exercise and cognitive function are usually centered on elderly or grown adults to determine what memory can be saved and what level of happiness can be obtained. Now it appears that exercise may do just as much for academics in young children as it does for the body in general.
Of the 1700 participants in the study approximately 65% said they either walked or rode a bike to school. Those with an active commute scored an average of four points higher than those that received rides to school. This may not seem significant on one test but can be the difference in a grade point, and over time the accumulative knowledge gained from the improved cognitive function could be statistically significant.
What's more is the time of the commute produced higher test scores. Girls whose active commute was longer than 15 minutes scored higher than girls whose commutes were less than 15 minutes. This is important because less that half of U.S. children manage to even obtain the hour of moderate exercise that is suggested as necessary in current guidelines. The increase in score based on the additional exercise indicates that the relationship between the exercise and the scores is factual. Children therefore need to maintain the hour of moderate exercise at the very least.
It is the body-mind interaction that stimulates the brain and the formation of new brain cells and neural connections that allow the brain to form new pathways. It is theorized that the increased stress of exercise activates existing hippocampus neurons thereby creating proteins that promote the birth of new neurons. These pathways protect and increase cognitive function through our lifetime. It's these new neurons that create an increased ability to perform cognitive tasks. Challenging the brain in new ways is important in order to continually create new neurons over a lifetime that will protect against age related diseases such as Alzheimer's.
This body-mind connection may also play a large role on the increased test scores. The increased time in commute could give the girls a longer time to visualize what they will be doing at school that day. While thinking about school and exercising it is possible that they arrive at school with an increased focus on what they will be doing that day.
Unfortunately this study did not indicate why there was no increase in test scores for young boys. Perhaps boys exercised more overall and therefore no increases could be noticed. There are so many differences between the developing minds of young boys and girls; there is the possibility of other factors that the study was not able to include.
The connection is clear though. Exercise is not just necessary for the elderly to remain lucid or for children to maintain a healthy BMI. Exercise above and beyond recommended guidelines can increase test scores and overall cognitive function.
About the authorDuke Mansell is a personal trainer who maintains AlltheWayFitness.com, a website devoted to optimal health through functional physical training and organic living. Duke Mansell is a researcher of health and wellness. His client training emphasizes a whole foods approach to weight loss and fitness and utilizes functional training. Duke Mansell is a student of applied kinesiology, trained in muscle testing to address body issues from hormone disfunction to leaky gut. Duke Mansell is also completing a BA and Masters in acupuncture and medicinal herbs.
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