Twelve minutes of exercise can improve attention and reading comprehension in low-income adolescents, suggests a new Dartmouth study.
It also suggests that schools serving low-income populations should work brief bouts of exercise into their daily schedules.
Study author Michele Tine , assistant professor of education and principal investigator in the Poverty and Learning Lab at Dartmouth, suspects the two groups respond to exercise differently because they experience different levels of stress in life.
"Low-income individuals experience more stress than high-income individuals, and stress impacts the same physiological systems that acute aerobic exercise activates," Tine said. "Physiological measures were beyond the scope of this study, but low-income participants did report experiencing more stress. Alternatively, it is possible that low-income individuals improved more simply because they had more room to improve."
This study is a follow-up to one Tine published in 2012. The earlier study found that brief aerobic exercise improved selective visual attention among children, with low-income participants experiencing the biggest improvement. Tine's latest study shows the effect holds true for adolescents (participants this time ranged from 17 to 21). It also explores, for the first time, exercise's effects on reading comprehension, an important research area because the gap between low- and high-income adolescents' reading comprehension is growing steadily.