Can Exercise Improve Memory and Cognition and Affect ADHD in Children?

An article, “Differential Effects of Acute and Regular Physical Exercise on Cognition and Affect” published in Neuroscience Volume 215, July 26, 2012, pp. 59-68, suggests that being active and exercising may improve memory and cognition. It may also help alleviate symptoms of ADHD in children.

Researchers found that regular physical exercise, for at least four weeks and including the final day of testing, enhanced recognition memory in those with a specific gene. This gene determines the extent to which exercise helps. Exercising for one day only did not affect recognition memory. Dartmouth researchers found that benefits vary with age. Children derive more benefits than adults.

“The expectation was that exercise after four weeks could make you do better,” said Bucci, one of the authors. “The most striking thing, however, was that this was only true with the people who had this growth factor. If you had some substitution you did not get the benefits — the activity of that growth factor seemed to have a big effect.”