Relationship between physical activity and good health in children

Kids and Exercise

relationship between physical activity and good health in children

May 4, Most studies of habitual physical activity in children suggest that the overweight . Lower BMI was related to better Psychosocial Health domain. Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges. Sep 12, Observational research has shown physical activity in early childhood is associated with better physical health. This includes a healthier body.

Study participants were included if they were either obese or normal weight as defined above. Underweight and overweight children were excluded from the study sample. Other exclusions were children with serious chronic or acute illness which might affect their QoL.

A pre-planned paired analysis of HRQoL between obese and normal weight children, with pair matching for same age and gender yielded 78 pairs with 43 paired comparisons in boys and 35 paired comparison in girls. Also, approval to conduct the study in government public schools was obtained from the Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Weight was measured to the nearest 0. Using height, weight, age, and sex data, BMI z-score were calculated for each individual according to the WHO reference and participants were categorized based on weight status classification i. These are all empirically determined cut-off points based on previous paediatric validation and calibrated studies [ 2526 ].

Participants were instructed to wear the accelerometer around the waist on an adjustable elastic belt and worn over the right hip under clothing. They also recorded the time the monitor was attached in a diary and removed each day including at other times that the monitor was removed during the day, for example when bathing. Data were downloaded and handled manually. Participating children completed the PedsQL at school in the presence of a researcher.

In brief, the PedsQL is a child self-report consisting of 23 items made up of physical eight itemssocial five itemsemotional five items and school functioning five items components [ 27 ]. The Sedentary Problem Kids and teens are sitting around a lot more than they used to.

They spend hours every day in front of a screen TVs, smartphones, tablets, and other devices looking at a variety of media TV shows, videos, movies, games. Too much screen time and not enough physical activity add to the problem of childhood obesity. One of the best ways to get kids to be more active is to limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities, especially watching TV or other screens. Put limits on the time spent using media, which includes TV, social media, and video games.

Media should not take the place of getting enough sleep and being active. Limit screen time to 1 hour a day or less for children 2 to 5 years old. Discourage any screen time, except video-chatting, for kids younger than 18 months.

Choose high-quality programming and watch it with your kids to help them understand what they're seeing. Keep TVs, computers, and video games out of children's bedrooms. Children who participated in Energizers took more steps during the school day than those who did not; they also increased their on-task behaviors by more than 20 percent over baseline measures.

relationship between physical activity and good health in children

A systematic review of a similar in-class, academically oriented, physical activity plan—Take 10! The findings suggest that children who experienced Take 10! Further, children in the Take 10! Some have expressed concern that introducing physical activity into the classroom setting may be distracting to students.

Yet in one study it was sedentary students who demonstrated a decrease in time on task, while active students returned to the same level of on-task behavior after an active learning task Grieco et al.

relationship between physical activity and good health in children

Among the 97 3rd-grade students in this study, a small but nonsignificant increase in on-task behaviors was seen immediately following these active lessons. Additionally, these improvements were not mediated by BMI. In sum, although presently understudied, physically active lessons may increase time on task and attention to task in the classroom setting.

Given the complexity of the typical classroom, the strategy of including content-specific lessons that incorporate physical activity may be justified. Recess It is recommended that every child have 20 minutes of recess each day and that this time be outdoors whenever possible, in a safe activity NASPE, Consistent engagement in recess can help students refine social skills, learn social mediation skills surrounding fair play, obtain additional minutes of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity that contribute toward the recommend 60 minutes or more per day, and have an opportunity to express their imagination through free play Pellegrini and Bohn, ; see also Chapter 6.

When children participate in recess before lunch, additional benefits accrue, such as less food waste, increased incidence of appropriate behavior in the cafeteria during lunch, and greater student readiness to learn upon returning to the classroom after lunch Getlinger et al.

To examine the effects of engagement in physical activity during recess on classroom behavior, Barros and colleagues examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study on 10, 8- to 9-year-old children.

Results indicate that children who had at least 15 minutes of recess were more likely to exhibit appropriate behavior in the classroom Barros et al. In another study, 43 4th-grade students were randomly assigned to 1 or no days of recess to examine the effects on classroom behavior Jarrett et al. The researchers concluded that on-task behavior was better among the children who had recess.

In a series of studies examining kindergartners' attention to task following a minute recess, increased time on task was observed during learning centers and story reading Pellegrini et al.

Despite these positive findings centered on improved attention, it is important to note that few of these studies actually measured the intensity of the physical activity during recess. From a slightly different perspective, survey data from Virginia elementary school principals suggest that time dedicated to student participation in physical education, art, and music did not negatively influence academic performance Wilkins et al.

Thus, the strategy of reducing time spent in physical education to increase academic performance may not have the desired effect. The evidence on in-school physical activity supports the provision of physical activity breaks during the school day as a way to increase fluid intelligence, time on task, and attention. New technology has emerged that has allowed scientists to understand the impact of lifestyle factors on the brain from the body systems level down to the molecular level.

A greater understanding of the cognitive components that subserve academic performance and may be amenable to intervention has thereby been gained. Research conducted in both laboratory and field settings has helped define this line of inquiry and identify some preliminary underlying mechanisms. The Evidence Base on the Relationship of Physical Activity to Brain Health and Cognition in Older Adults Despite the current focus on the relationship of physical activity to cognitive development, the evidence base is larger on the association of physical activity with brain health and cognition during aging.

relationship between physical activity and good health in children

Much can be learned about how physical activity affects childhood cognition and scholastic achievement through this work. Despite earlier investigations into the relationship of physical activity to cognitive aging see Etnier et al.

Specifically, older adults aged 60 and 75 were randomly assigned to a 6-month intervention of either walking i. The walking group but not the flexibility group showed improved cognitive performance, measured as a shorter response time to the presented stimulus.

Results from a series of tasks that tapped different aspects of cognitive control indicated that engagement in physical activity is a beneficial means of combating cognitive aging Kramer et al.

Cognitive control, or executive control, is involved in the selection, scheduling, and coordination of computational processes underlying perception, memory, and goal-directed action. These processes allow for the optimization of behavioral interactions within the environment through flexible modulation of the ability to control attention MacDonald et al.

Core cognitive processes that make up cognitive control or executive control include inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility Diamond,processes mediated by networks that involve the prefrontal cortex. Inhibition or inhibitory control refers to the ability to override a strong internal or external pull so as to act appropriately within the demands imposed by the environment Davidson et al. For example, one exerts inhibitory control when one stops speaking when the teacher begins lecturing.

Working memory refers to the ability to represent information mentally, manipulate stored information, and act on the information Davidson et al. In solving a difficult mathematical problem, for example, one must often remember the remainder.

Finally, cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to switch perspectives, focus attention, and adapt behavior quickly and flexibly for the purposes of goal-directed action Blair et al.

For example, one must shift attention from the teacher who is teaching a lesson to one's notes to write down information for later study.

Based on their earlier findings on changes in cognitive control induced by aerobic training, Colcombe and Kramer conducted a meta-analysis to examine the relationship between aerobic training and cognition in older adults aged using data from 18 randomized controlled exercise interventions.

Their findings suggest that aerobic training is associated with general cognitive benefits that are selectively and disproportionately greater for tasks or task components requiring greater amounts of cognitive control.

A second and more recent meta-analysis Smith et al. In older adults, then, aerobic training selectively improves cognition. Hillman and colleagues examined the relationship between physical activity and inhibition one aspect of cognitive control using a computer-based stimulus-response protocol in individuals aged Their results indicate that greater amounts of physical activity are related to decreased response speed across task conditions requiring variable amounts of inhibition, suggesting a generalized relationship between physical activity and response speed.

In addition, the authors found physical activity to be related to better accuracy across conditions in older adults, while no such relationship was observed for younger adults.

Of interest, this relationship was disproportionately larger for the condition requiring greater amounts of inhibition in the older adults, suggesting that physical activity has both a general and selective association with task performance Hillman et al. With advances in neuroimaging techniques, understanding of the effects of physical activity and aerobic fitness on brain structure and function has advanced rapidly over the past decade.

In particular, a series of studies Colcombe et al. Normal aging results in the loss of brain tissue Colcombe et al. Thus cognitive functions subserved by these brain regions such as those involved in cognitive control and aspects of memory are expected to decay more dramatically than other aspects of cognition. Colcombe and colleagues investigated the relationship of aerobic fitness to gray and white matter tissue loss using magnetic resonance imaging MRI in 55 healthy older adults aged They observed robust age-related decreases in tissue density in the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions using voxel-based morphometry, a technique used to assess brain volume.

Reductions in the amount of tissue loss in these regions were observed as a function of fitness. Given that the brain structures most affected by aging also demonstrated the greatest fitness-related sparing, these initial findings provide a biological basis for fitness-related benefits to brain health during aging. In a second study, Colcombe and colleagues examined the effects of aerobic fitness training on brain structure using a randomized controlled design with 59 sedentary healthy adults aged The treatment group received a 6-month aerobic exercise i.

Results indicated that gray and white matter brain volume increased for those who received the aerobic fitness training intervention. No such results were observed for those assigned to the stretching and toning group. Specifically, those assigned to the aerobic training intervention demonstrated increased gray matter in the frontal lobes, including the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, the supplementary motor area, the middle frontal gyrus, the dorsolateral region of the right inferior frontal gyrus, and the left superior temporal lobe.

White matter volume changes also were evidenced following the aerobic fitness intervention, with increases in white matter tracts being observed within the anterior third of the corpus callosum. These brain regions are important for cognition, as they have been implicated in the cognitive control of attention and memory processes. These findings suggest that aerobic training not only spares age-related loss of brain structures but also may in fact enhance the structural health of specific brain regions.

In addition to the structural changes noted above, research has investigated the relationship between aerobic fitness and changes in brain function. That is, aerobic fitness training has also been observed to induce changes in patterns of functional activation. Functional MRI fMRI measures, which make it possible to image activity in the brain while an individual is performing a cognitive task, have revealed that aerobic training induces changes in patterns of functional activation.

This approach involves inferring changes in neuronal activity from alteration in blood flow or metabolic activity in the brain. In a seminal paper, Colcombe and colleagues examined the relationship of aerobic fitness to brain function and cognition across two studies with older adults. In the second study, 29 participants aged were recruited and randomly assigned to either a fitness training i. In both studies, participants were given a task requiring variable amounts of attention and inhibition.

Results indicated that fitness study 1 and fitness training study 2 were related to greater activation in the middle frontal gyrus and superior parietal cortex; these regions of the brain are involved in attentional control and inhibitory functioning, processes entailed in the regulation of attention and action. These changes in neural activation were related to significant improvements in performance on the cognitive control task of attention and inhibition.

Taken together, the findings across studies suggest that an increase in aerobic fitness, derived from physical activity, is related to improvements in the integrity of brain structure and function and may underlie improvements in cognition across tasks requiring cognitive control.

Physical Activity

Although developmental differences exist, the general paradigm of this research can be applied to early stages of the life span, and some early attempts to do so have been made, as described below. Given the focus of this chapter on childhood cognition, it should be noted that this section has provided only a brief and arguably narrow look at the research on physical activity and cognitive aging.

Considerable work has detailed the relationship of physical activity to other aspects of adult cognition using behavioral and neuroimaging tools e. The interested reader is referred to a number of review papers and meta-analyses describing the relationship of physical activity to various aspects of cognitive and brain health Etnier et al.

Child Development, Brain Structure, and Function Certain aspects of development have been linked with experience, indicating an intricate interplay between genetic programming and environmental influences. During typical development, experience shapes the pruning process through the strengthening of neural networks that support relevant thoughts and actions and the elimination of unnecessary or redundant connections.

Examples of neural plasticity in response to unique environmental interaction have been demonstrated in human neuroimaging studies of participation in music Elbert et al. Effects of Regular Engagement in Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Brain Structure Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques have rapidly advanced understanding of the role physical activity and aerobic fitness may have in brain structure.

In children a growing body of correlational research suggests differential brain structure related to aerobic fitness. Chaddock and colleagues ab showed a relationship among aerobic fitness, brain volume, and aspects of cognition and memory.

Specifically, Chaddock and colleagues a assigned 9- to year-old preadolescent children to lower- and higher-fitness groups as a function of their scores on a maximal oxygen uptake VO2max test, which is considered the gold-standard measure of aerobic fitness. They observed larger bilateral hippocampal volume in higher-fit children using MRI, as well as better performance on a task of relational memory. It is important to note that relational memory has been shown to be mediated by the hippocampus Cohen and Eichenbaum, ; Cohen et al.

Further, no differences emerged for a task condition requiring item memory, which is supported by structures outside the hippocampus, suggesting selectivity among the aspects of memory that benefit from higher amounts of fitness.

Kids and Exercise

Lastly, hippocampal volume was positively related to performance on the relational memory task but not the item memory task, and bilateral hippocampal volume was observed to mediate the relationship between fitness and relational memory Chaddock et al. Such findings are consistent with behavioral measures of relational memory in children Chaddock et al. In a second investigation Chaddock et al. The authors observed differential findings in the basal ganglia, a subcortical structure involved in the interplay of cognition and willed action.

Specifically, higher-fit children exhibited greater volume in the dorsal striatum i. Such findings are not surprising given the role of the dorsal striatum in cognitive control and response resolution Casey et al. Chaddock and colleagues b further observed that higher-fit children exhibited increased inhibitory control and response resolution and that higher basal ganglia volume was related to better task performance.

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These findings indicate that the dorsal striatum is involved in these aspects of higher-order cognition and that fitness may influence cognitive control during preadolescent development. Effects of Regular Engagement in Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Brain Function Other research has attempted to characterize fitness-related differences in brain function using fMRI and event-related brain potentials ERPswhich are neuroelectric indices of functional brain activation in the electro-encephalographic time series.

To date, few randomized controlled interventions have been conducted. Notably, Davis and colleagues conducted one such intervention lasting approximately 14 weeks that randomized 20 sedentary overweight preadolescent children into an after-school physical activity intervention or a nonactivity control group.

The fMRI data collected during an antisaccade task, which requires inhibitory control, indicated increased bilateral activation of the prefrontal cortex and decreased bilateral activation of the posterior parietal cortex following the physical activity intervention relative to the control group. Such findings illustrate some of the neural substrates influenced by participation in physical activity. Two additional correlational studies Voss et al.

That is, Chaddock and colleagues observed increased activation in prefrontal and parietal brain regions during early task blocks and decreased activation during later task blocks in higher-fit relative to lower-fit children.

Given that higher-fit children outperformed lower-fit children on the aspects of the task requiring the greatest amount of cognitive control, the authors reason that the higher-fit children were more capable of adapting neural activity to meet the demands imposed by tasks that tapped higher-order cognitive processes such as inhibition and goal maintenance. Voss and colleagues used a similar task to vary cognitive control requirements and found that higher-fit children outperformed their lower-fit counterparts and that such differences became more pronounced during task conditions requiring the upregulation of control.

Further, several differences emerged across various brain regions that together make up the network associated with cognitive control. Collectively, these differences suggest that higher-fit children are more efficient in the allocation of resources in support of cognitive control operations. Other imaging research has examined the neuroelectric system i.