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June 15. 2014 8:47PM

Dartmouth study says short bouts of exercise improve academic performance in low-income children

HANOVER — Just 12 minutes of exercise improves attention and reading comprehension in low-income adolescents.

The study suggests schools that serve low-income populations should work brief exercise sessions into the school day to improve academic performance, said Michele Tine on Friday.

Tine, an assistant professor of education at Dartmouth, headed the study.The study was published as part of the June volume of Frontiers in Psychology.

The study compared low-income adolescents with their high-income peers. While both groups saw improvement in selective visual attention up to 45 minutes after exercising, the low-income group experienced a bigger jump. Selective visual attention is the ability to remain visually focused on something despite distractions.

The low-income students also improved on tests of reading comprehension following the exercise, but the high-income students did not.

Why low-income students got more out of the short bouts of physical activity is the million dollar question, Tine said, and will be the focus of future studies.

Tine, though, has two different theories.

“People that live in poverty live with chronic stress,” she said, exercise releases stress. “Alternatively, it is possible that low-income individuals improved more simply because they had more room to improve.”

We already know the social and physical benefits of physical education in schools, Tine said. This new study shows there are other benefits as well.

“The implication is that really quick sessions of aerobic exercise have cognitive and academic benefits,” Tine said.

This study shows there can be more gained if P.E. classes are restructured, she said. Typically schools P.E. classes two to three times a week at 30 to 45 minutes increments. Tine suggests school work in twelve minute exercise sessions three times a day.

mpierce@newstote.com


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