Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 14:00 UK

Exercise 'helps' school children concentrate

Teenagers playing football
Researchers said the study had implications for school exercise

Young children who exercise at school perform better in concentration tests, researchers have said after a study on pupils in Aberdeen.

More than 1,000 children at primary schools in the city took part in the study by researchers at the universities of Aberdeen and Leeds.

The team said those who performed aerobic exercise did better in the tests than those who did not.

They claim the study has implications in the debate about exercise in school.

Pupils between primary four and seven exercised for between 10 and 15 minutes.

Mental tests were then carried out at the end of the school day.

'Attention span'

Dr Justin Williams, senior lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, said: "This is the first and largest study of its kind and our results show that 15 minutes of exercise in the classroom improved performance on cognitive tests conducted later in the day.

"While further research is required, this could change the way we think about exercise in schools. As well as being important in tackling obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle, exercise can help with learning.

"It also raises the question of how much the often-reported decline in children's attention span in modern day life stems from a lack of physical exercise."

The findings have been published in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

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