Study: Brief Spurts Of Exercise Can Improve Academic Skills

Jun 15, 2014

A brief spurt of vigorous exercise can improve attention and reading comprehension for adolescents. That’s what a  researcher learned from experiments in the Poverty and Learning Lab at Dartmouth College.

Professor Michele Tine says the benefits of aerobic activity were greater for low-income than for high-income students in her study. Tine speculates that the less affluent students may have had more room to improve academically. Or perhaps they have more stress in their lives. Tine says exercise has been proven to lower stress levels.

“That stress that you experience when you live in poverty de-regulates some very specific systems in our bodies and in kind of our brains," said Tine. "Those same systems are activated when we exercise really quickly.”

Tine says more study needs to be done about why some kids showed more improvement after exercise than others, but she believes all schools may want to consider re-structuring exercise time.

“So perhaps short recesses throughout the day instead of one long recess," said Tine. 

The study is published in Frontiers in Psychology.