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Specific types of physical activity, diet and lifestyle promote powerful reasoning skills in young children
POSTED 14 Sep 2023 . BY Tom Walker
Children who spent more time in organised physical activity showed better reasoning skills than their peers Credit: Shutterstock/Ground Picture
Children who spent more time in reading and organised physical activity and sports showed better reasoning skills than their peers
Meanwhile, unsupervised physical activity and excessive time spent on a computer were associated with poorer reasoning skills
The findings come from a study by the University of Eastern Finland
The report was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Children who take part in organised physical activity or sport over their first two school years, while also having better diets and spending more time reading have more powerful reasoning skills than peers who don't have the benefit of these kinds of support or engagement.

Reasoning skills are crucial in learning, academic performance and everyday problem-solving.

A study by University of Eastern Finland (Itä-Suomen yliopisto) researched data from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) project – a two-year diet and physical activity intervention which focused on cognition among 397 Finnish elementary school children.

Diet specifics were critical, with doctoral researcher, Sehrish Naveed saying: “Children with healthier eating habits showed greater cognitive development than children on poorer diets – specifically, better overall diet quality, with lower red meat and sausage consumption and greater intake of low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk."

The report also suggests that excessive time spent on a computer and unsupervised physical activity during leisure time were associated with poorer reasoning skills.

Active school transportation, physical activity during school recesses, and physical activity intensity – while giving other major benefits – were not found to be specifically associated with reasoning skills.

Over half of the children participated in a two-year family-based and individualised diet and physical activity intervention. However, this intervention did not impact reasoning skills either, with the children in the intervention and control groups exhibiting similar cognitive development, indicating that it was the impact of organised physical activity that had the greatest power to impact outcomes.

"In the lives of growing children, diet and physical activity intervention is just one factor influencing lifestyle and reasoning skills. Based on our study, investing in a healthy diet and encouraging children to read are beneficial for the development of their reasoning skills. Additionally, engaging in organised sports appears to support reasoning skills," summed up Dr Eero Haapala, senior lecturer in sport and exercise Medicine at the University of Jyväskylä.

The research – Effects of two‐year dietary and physical activity intervention on cognition in children – a nonrandomised controlled trial – was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Researchers were: Sehrish Naveed, Taisa Sallinen, Aino-Maija Eloranta, Hannamari Skog, Henna Jalkanen, Soren Brage, Ulf Ekelund, Heikki Pentikäinen, Kai Savonen, Timo A. Lakka and Eero A Haapala/

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NEWS
Specific types of physical activity, diet and lifestyle promote powerful reasoning skills in young children
POSTED 14 Sep 2023 . BY Tom Walker
Children who spent more time in organised physical activity showed better reasoning skills than their peers Credit: Shutterstock/Ground Picture
Children who spent more time in reading and organised physical activity and sports showed better reasoning skills than their peers
Meanwhile, unsupervised physical activity and excessive time spent on a computer were associated with poorer reasoning skills
The findings come from a study by the University of Eastern Finland
The report was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Children who take part in organised physical activity or sport over their first two school years, while also having better diets and spending more time reading have more powerful reasoning skills than peers who don't have the benefit of these kinds of support or engagement.

Reasoning skills are crucial in learning, academic performance and everyday problem-solving.

A study by University of Eastern Finland (Itä-Suomen yliopisto) researched data from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) project – a two-year diet and physical activity intervention which focused on cognition among 397 Finnish elementary school children.

Diet specifics were critical, with doctoral researcher, Sehrish Naveed saying: “Children with healthier eating habits showed greater cognitive development than children on poorer diets – specifically, better overall diet quality, with lower red meat and sausage consumption and greater intake of low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk."

The report also suggests that excessive time spent on a computer and unsupervised physical activity during leisure time were associated with poorer reasoning skills.

Active school transportation, physical activity during school recesses, and physical activity intensity – while giving other major benefits – were not found to be specifically associated with reasoning skills.

Over half of the children participated in a two-year family-based and individualised diet and physical activity intervention. However, this intervention did not impact reasoning skills either, with the children in the intervention and control groups exhibiting similar cognitive development, indicating that it was the impact of organised physical activity that had the greatest power to impact outcomes.

"In the lives of growing children, diet and physical activity intervention is just one factor influencing lifestyle and reasoning skills. Based on our study, investing in a healthy diet and encouraging children to read are beneficial for the development of their reasoning skills. Additionally, engaging in organised sports appears to support reasoning skills," summed up Dr Eero Haapala, senior lecturer in sport and exercise Medicine at the University of Jyväskylä.

The research – Effects of two‐year dietary and physical activity intervention on cognition in children – a nonrandomised controlled trial – was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Researchers were: Sehrish Naveed, Taisa Sallinen, Aino-Maija Eloranta, Hannamari Skog, Henna Jalkanen, Soren Brage, Ulf Ekelund, Heikki Pentikäinen, Kai Savonen, Timo A. Lakka and Eero A Haapala/

RELATED STORIES
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Why pay for a membership and not use it? A joint investigation by HCM and Active Insights explores a question that has never been answered, as Julie Allen reports
Physical activity could prevent 100k premature deaths a year


The UK Government needs to adopt a national health strategy based on prevention, if it wants to successfully tackle a cardiovascular disease emergency that has resulted in almost 100,000 excess deaths since the start of 2020.
Women who exercise pass health benefits to grandchildren finds Harvard research


The physical activity a woman does before child-bearing etches itself into her cells in ways that mean the benefits of exercise can be passed on to later generations, including children and grandchildren – even if these younger generations do not actually exercise themselves.
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Gymbox partners with Raza Sana to transform lives through fitness
Gymbox has partnered with Haringey Council and not-for-profit organisation, Raza Sana, to give opportunities to those living in disadvantaged communities.
Sport for Confidence gets national recognition for pioneering work breaking down barriers to physical activity
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