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      The Association Between Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement in Texas State House Legislative Districts: An Ecologic Study

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      Journal of School Health

      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans.

          The human brain gradually loses tissue from the third decade of life onward, with concomitant declines in cognitive performance. Given the projected rapid growth in aged populations, and the staggering costs associated with geriatric care, identifying mechanisms that may reduce or reverse cerebral deterioration is rapidly emerging as an important public health goal. Previous research has demonstrated that aerobic fitness training improves cognitive function in older adults and can improve brain health in aging laboratory animals, suggesting that aerobic fitness may provide a mechanism to improve cerebral health in aging humans. We examined the relationship between aerobic fitness and in vivo brain tissue density in an older adult population, using voxel-based morphometric techniques. We acquired high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scans from 55 older adults. These images were segmented into gray and white matter maps, registered into stereotaxic space, and examined for systematic variation in tissue density as a function of age, aerobic fitness, and a number of other health markers. Consistent with previous studies of aging and brain volume, we found robust declines in tissue densities as a function of age in the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices. More importantly, we found that losses in these areas were substantially reduced as a function of cardiovascular fitness, even when we statistically controlled for other moderator variables. These findings extend the scope of beneficial effects of aerobic exercise beyond cardiovascular health, and they suggest a strong solid biological basis for the benefits of exercise on the brain health of older adults.
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            Exercise and Children's Intelligence, Cognition, and Academic Achievement.

            Studies that examine the effects of exercise on children's intelligence, cognition, or academic achievement were reviewed and results were discussed in light of (a) contemporary cognitive theory development directed toward exercise, (b) recent research demonstrating the salutary effects of exercise on adults' cognitive functioning, and (c) studies conducted with animals that have linked physical activity to changes in neurological development and behavior. Similar to adults, exercise facilitates children's executive function (i.e., processes required to select, organize, and properly initiate goal-directed actions). Exercise may prove to be a simple, yet important, method of enhancing those aspects of children's mental functioning central to cognitive development.
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              A meta-regression to examine the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance.

              Many studies have been conducted to test the potentially beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition. The results of meta-analytic reviews of this literature suggest that there is a positive association between participation in physical activity and cognitive performance. The design of past research demonstrates the tacit assumption that changes in aerobic fitness contribute to the changes in cognitive performance. Therefore, the purpose of this meta-analysis was to use meta-regression techniques to statistically test the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance. Results indicated that there was not a significant linear or curvilinear relationship between fitness effect sizes (ESs) and cognitive ESs for studies using cross-sectional designs or posttest comparisons. However, there was a significant negative relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance for pre-post comparisons. The effects for the cross-sectional and pre-post comparisons were moderated by the age group of the participants; however, the nature of this effect was not consistent for the two databases. Based on the findings of this meta-analytic review, it is concluded that the empirical literature does not support the cardiovascular fitness hypothesis. To confirm the findings of this review, future research should specifically test the dose-response relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance. However, based upon the findings of this review, we also encourage future research to focus on other physiological and psychological variables that may serve to mediate the relationship between physical activity and cognitive performance.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of School Health
                J School Health
                Wiley-Blackwell
                00224391
                August 2014
                August 2014
                : 84
                : 8
                : 533-542
                Article
                10.1111/josh.12176
                © 2014
                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/josh.12176

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