Two years ago, the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at what makes for successful CEOs, specifically those at companies involved in buyout and venture capital deals. ‘Success and performance are more strongly correlated with execution-type skills than with interpersonal and team-related skills,’ the report concluded in part. In other words, being able to get things done trumped being a good team player or a nice guy or gal. OK, so does that translate to maintaining physical fitness?
Children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than children who are out of shape, a new study finds, raising timely questions about the wisdom of slashing physical education programs at schools.
Parents and exercise scientists (who, not infrequently, are the same people) have known for a long time that physical activity helps young people to settle and pay attention in school or at home, with salutary effects on academic performance. A representative study, presented in May at the American College of Sports Medicine, found that fourth- and fifth-grade students who ran around and otherwise exercised vigorously for at least 10 minutes before a math test scored higher than children who had sat quietly before the exam.
More generally, in a large-scale study of almost 12,000 Nebraska schoolchildren published in August in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers compiled each child’s physical fitness, as measured by a timed run, body mass index and academic achievement in English and math, based on the state’s standardized test scores. Better fitness proved to be linked to significantly higher achievement scores, while, interestingly, body size had almost no role. Students who were overweight but relatively fit had higher test scores than lighter, less-fit children.
To date, however, no study specifically had examined whether and in what ways physical fitness might affect how children learn. So researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently stepped into that breach, recruiting a group of local 9- and 10-year-old boys and girls, testing their aerobic fitness on a treadmill, and then asking 24 of the most fit and 24 of the least fit to come into the exercise physiology lab and work on some difficult memorization tasks.
Learning is, of course, a complex process, involving not only the taking in and storing of new information in the form of memories, a process known as encoding, but also recalling that information later. Information that cannot be recalled has not really been learned.
Earlier studies of children’s learning styles have shown that most learn more readily if they are tested on material while they are in the process of learning it. In effect, if they are quizzed while memorizing, they remember more easily. Straight memorization, without intermittent reinforcement during the process, is tougher, although it is also how most children study.
In this case, the researchers opted to use both approaches to learning, by providing their young volunteers with iPads onto which several maps of imaginary lands had been loaded. The maps were demarcated into regions, each with a four-letter name. During one learning session, the children were shown these names in place for six seconds. The names then appeared on the map in their correct position six additional times while children stared at and tried to memorize them.
In a separate learning session, region names appeared on a different map in their proper location, then moved to the margins of the map. The children were asked to tap on a name and match it with the correct region, providing in-session testing as they memorized.
A day later, all of the children returned to the lab and were asked to correctly label the various maps’ regions.
The results, published last week in PLoS One, show that, over all, the children performed similarly when they were asked to recall names for the map when their memorization was reinforced by testing.
But when the recall involved the more difficult type of learning – memorizing without intermittent testing – the children who were in better aerobic condition significantly outperformed the less-fit group, remembering about 40 percent of the regions’ names accurately, compared with barely 25 percent accuracy for the out-of-shape kids.
This finding suggests that ‘higher levels of fitness have their greatest impact in the most challenging situations’ that children face intellectually, the study’s authors write. The more difficult something is to learn, the more physical fitness may aid children in learning it.
Of course, this study did not focus specifically on the kind of active exercise typical of recess, but on longer-term, overall physical fitness in young children. But in doing so, it subtly reinforces the importance of recess and similar physical activity programs in schools, its authors believe.
If children are to develop and maintain the kind of aerobic fitness that amplifies their ability to learn, said co-author Charles Hillman, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois and a fellow at the university’s Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, they should engage in ‘at least an hour a day’ of vigorous physical activity. Schools, where children spend so many of their waking hours, provide the most logical and logistically plausible place for them to get such exercise, he said.
Or as he and his co-authors dryly note in the study: ‘Reducing or eliminating physical education in schools, as is often done in tight financial times, may not be the best way to ensure educational success among our young people.’
Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity
You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.
You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.
No. 1: Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways – by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.
No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or ‘good,’ cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.
No. 3: Exercise improves mood
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
No. 4: Exercise boosts energy
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.
A person who is fit is capable of living life to its fullest extent. Physical and mental fitness play very important roles in your lives and people who are both, physically and mentally fit are less prone to medical conditions as well.
What is Fitness?
Fitness does not only refer to being physically fit, but also refers to a person’s mental state as well. If a person is physically fit, but mentally unwell or troubled, he or she will not be able to function optimally. Mental fitness can only be achieved if your body is functioning well. You can help relax your own mind and eliminate stresses by exercising regularly and eating right.
Why is it Important to Be Physically Fit?
People who are physically fit are also healthier, are able to maintain their most optimum weight, and are also not prone to cardiac and other health problems. In order to maintain a relaxed state of mind, a person should be physically active. A person who is fit both physically and mentally is strong enough to face the ups and downs of life, and is not affected by drastic changes if they take place.
How Can You Become More Physically Fit?
Becoming physically fit requires a change in life style as well. You will have to incorporate a regular exercise routine in your life and also eat healthier. By avoiding junk foods, fizzy drinks, bad habits like smoking and alcohol and by getting adequate amount of rest, you will be able to become physically and mentally fit. Just by eliminating all these food substances from your life, no matter how temporarily, you will allow your body to detox and become stronger. Make sure that you spend more time outdoors in the sun, and fresh air and take part in more healthy activities. Fishing, bicycling, swimming, hiking, and even playing foot ball with your kids should be a part of your physically fit lifestyle.
What Are the Advantages of Being More Active?
By becoming more active you can increase your body’s fitness levels and also avoid health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure from developing. Exercise is also good for your joints and makes your body stronger overall.
Health Benefits Of Physical Activity
The benefits of exercise extend far beyond weight management. Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce your risk for several diseases and health conditions and improve your overall quality of life. Regular physical activity can help protect you from the following health problems.
- Heart Disease andStroke. Daily physical activity can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, raising your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (goodcholesterol) and lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels (bad cholesterol), improving blood flow, and increasing your heart’s working capacity. Optimizing each of these factors can provide additional benefits of decreasing the risk forPeripheral Vascular Disease.
- High Blood Pressure. Regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure in those with high blood pressure levels. Physical activity reduces body fat, which is associated with high blood pressure.
- Noninsulin-Dependent Diabetes. By reducing body fat, physical activity can help to prevent and control this type of diabetes.
- Obesity. Physical activity helps to reduce body fat by building or preserving muscle mass and improving the body’s ability to use calories. When physical activity is combined with proper nutrition, it can help control weight and prevent obesity, a major risk factor for many diseases.
- Back Pain. By increasing muscle strength and endurance and improving flexibility and posture, regular exercise helps to prevent back pain.
- Osteoporosis. Regular weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation and may prevent many forms of bone loss associated with aging.
- Self Esteem And Stress Management. Studies on the psychological effects of exercise have found that regular physical activity can improve your mood and the way you feel about yourself. Researchers have found that exercise is likely to reduce depression and anxiety and help you to better managestress.
- Disability. Running and aerobic exercise have been shown to postpone the development of disability in older adults.
Keep these health benefits in mind when deciding whether or not to exercise.
There are plenty of reasons why getting off the couch and into your games kit is a good thing. Our bodies are like cars; they need to move to function well!
Physically, sport helps you lose weight, enjoy a more toned body and show stamina on the sports field. Regular exercise also boosts self-confidence and mental concentration. Even if you’re no Johnny Wilkinson, being fit is a big plus; enhancing co-ordination, agility and cardiovascular fitness. You’ll probably even pick up some new mates whilst you’re at it.
Regular exercise improves health and fitness. Health is defined as a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being; not merely the absence of illness or infirmity. Fitness is the ability to meet the demands of the environment.
Mental benefits include:
- improved confidence
- relief of stress/tension and stress related illness [ Stress-related illness: Caused by tension and worry. Includes conditions such as depression, insomnia and anxiety. ]
Physical benefits include:
Social benefits include:
Being a member of a sports club and regularly participating in sport will develop personal qualities from:
- Co-operation – working with others.
- Competition – testing yourself against others.
- Physical challenge – testing yourself against the environment or your best performances.
- Aesthetic appreciation – recognizing quality of movement in a performance.