Short bursts of intensive exercise can boosts kids' brain power - and has benefits for children with learning difficulties or conditions such as autism, a new Kiwi study suggests.
Although previous research has shown long, sustained workouts lasting about 30-40 minutes improve memory and learning in adults and children, a new study from the University of Auckland has found potential benefits of shorter sessions.
The study, just published in open-access, peer-review journal eLife, investigated
the effect of short bursts of high-intensity training (HIT) for 10 minutes each day on children aged 7-13.
A team led by Dr David Moreau, of the university's School of Psychology, established baseline data by testing the 305 participants on six tasks involving memory, information processing and behaviour before commencing the study.
They then randomly assigned participants to either a placebo group involving activities such as games and quizzes, or to an HIT group that involved an intense 10-minute workout every weekday over a six-week period.
Participants in the HIT group showed larger improvements in tasks involving memory and information processing and behaviour, including the ability to focus on a task to completion without getting distracted.
The latter has been shown to be a key indicator of professional and academic success in adults.
"These findings reinforce previous research which has found exercise is one of the most effective non-invasive ways to improve memory and cognitive understanding," Moreau said.
"The significance of the study is that it shows exercise does not have to be time-consuming and that a range of children, some with learning difficulties, get real benefits from short periods of fairly intensive physical activity."