In-school Exercise a Help for Attention Deficits

Rob Wipond
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Researcher Michele Tine of Dartmouth College’s Poverty and Learning Lab reports in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that 12 minutes of aerobic exercise caused a “particularly large” improvement in the selective visual attention and reading comprehension abilities of low-income adolescents. The effects lasted for about 45 minutes after the exercise. The effects, however, were negligible in higher-income adolescents in the 85-person group. Tine suggested that the stress of living in poverty could be inducing “higher levels of chronic stress” and “more severely deregulated physiological systems”, and these factors might in part explain why the biological effects of exercise had more significant positive impacts on the low-income group.

12 minutes of exercise improves attention, reading comprehension in low-income adolescents (Press Release, Dartmouth College)

Acute aerobic exercise: an intervention for the selective visual attention and reading comprehension of low-income adolescents (Tine, M.. Front. Psychol., 11 June 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00575)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

5 COMMENTS

  1. But wait, I thought their brains were broken…

    This is actually not new – a similar experiment was done in the 70s for “ADHD” diagnosed kids, and they did noticeably better with in-school exercise. Too bad the “powers that be” don’t seem to want to incorporate that information into their handling of kids in school.

    —- Steve

  2. Does it occur to the experts that the high income kids have safe neighborhoods and properties that afford them the ability to safety play outside at home, whereas this is becoming increasingly less likely for the low income children? And the ability to safely play outside is a valuable part of growing up for all children? Perhaps, decreasing the appallingly increasing income disparity, would be appropriate now.

    • I agree high income kids potentially have more opportunity to safely play outside but the reality is that kids aren’t allowed out to build tree forts anymore. They are driven in SUVs to structured “play dates” and equipped with cell phones so Mum and Dad can check in on them regularly.

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