Research update: More muscle may mean better memory in children

The idea that children should stay away from muscle building activities (like high intensity exercise or weight lifting) is changing quickly. It’s been shown that children who engage in muscle strengthening exercise tend to have more bone density, i.e., stronger bones (just like adults). As an added bonus, new research suggests that children with greater muscle fitness have enhanced memory performance.

The Study

Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston evaluated 79 children between the ages of 9 and 11 They found that children with greater muscle fitness from activities like body weight movements (e.g., pushups, squats) and lifting light medicine balls also had a more accurate working memory. They concluded that muscle fitness is directly linked to memory performance. The researchers theorize that this could be because muscle fitness may help develop connections between brain neurons. More research is needed to determine if muscle fitness has any bearing on academic performance.

The study appeared in the April 2017 issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Moral of the Study

Kids can benefit both physically AND mentally from daily physical activity that includes muscle building activities like playing on playground equipment, lifting and throwing sports balls, etc.

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