HealthDay News/Dr. Tango -- Three months of daily vigorous exercise can improve the ability of overweight children to think, according to U.S. researchers.
Physical activity can also lower the risk of diabetes, reduce body fat, and strengthen bones, according to a team that assessed 200 overweight, inactive children, ages 7 to 11.
The children learned about healthy eating and the benefits of physical activity. In addition, a third of the children exercised for 20 minutes a day, and another third exercised for forty minutes. During the exercise sessions, the children played running games and used hula hoops and jump ropes in order to get their heart rate to a maximum of 79%, which is considered vigorous exercise.
"Aerobic exercise training showed dose-response benefits on executive function (decision-making) and possibly math achievement in overweight children," the researchers wrote in a summary presented at the Obesity Society annual scientific meeting in October 2007 in New Orleans. "Regular exercise may be a simple, important method of improving children's cognitive and academic development. These results may persuade educators to implement vigorous physical activity during a childhood obesity epidemic," the researchers concluded.
"Is exercise a magic wand that turns them into skinny, healthy kids? No. They are still overweight, but less. They have less fat, a healthier metabolism, and an improved ability to handle life," affirmed Dr. Catherine Davis, lead investigator and clinical psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
"We hope these findings will help persuade policy makers, schools, and communities that time spent doing physical activity improves, rather than detracts, from learning," Davis pointed out.
The Nemours Foundation has more information on overweight and obese children.
SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, Oct. 22, 2007 © Author rights 2007, ScoutNews, LLC
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