Exercising regularly not only helps overweight kids lose the excess fat, researchers from the Georgia Health Sciences University suggest that it also helps them improve their overall brain efficiency.
Researchers analyzed over 171 overweight kids, all between ages 7-11 years, and conducted two of the major intelligence tests known as Cognitive Assessment System and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III which measure a child's ability in academic skills such as math and reading.
Some of the children also underwent MRI scans in order to ascertain which areas of the brain show an increase or decrease in activity. The tests showed that those children who exercised regularly showed increased brain activity in the area of the brain known as prefrontal cortex which is associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior. Consequently, intelligence ratings also showed an average increase of 3.8 points.
"I hope these findings will help reestablish physical activity's important place in the schools in helping kids stay physically well and mentally sharp. For children to reach their potential, they need to be active", lead researcher Dr Catherine Davis said.
The study was published in Health Psychology.