Studies that examine the effects of exercise on children’s intelligence, cognition, or academic achievement were reviewed and results were discussed in light of (a) contemporary cognitive theory development directed toward exercise, (b) recent research demonstrating the salutary effects of exercise on adults’ cognitive functioning, and (c) studies conducted with animals that have linked physical activity to changes in neurological development and behavior. Similar to adults, exercise facilitates children’s executive function (i.e., processes required to select, organize, and properly initiate goal-directed actions). Exercise may prove to be a simple, yet important, method of enhancing those aspects of children’s mental functioning central to cognitive development.
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Unless otherwise noted, Effect Sizes (ES) provided in this section were calculated as recommended by Thalheimer and Cook (2002). Within-group ES was calculated when sufficient data were provided to determine a pre-post intervention test difference score that could be divided by the pooled standard deviation; between-group ES was calculated from available F-test statistics.
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Tomporowski, P.D., Davis, C.L., Miller, P.H. et al. Exercise and Children’s Intelligence, Cognition, and Academic Achievement. Educ Psychol Rev 20, 111 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-007-9057-0
- Physical activity
- Academic achievement