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Bouts of Exercise Boosts Attention, Reading in Low-Income Kids

Update Date: Jun 12, 2014 07:29 PM EDT

Exercising for 12 minutes can boost attention and reading comprehension in teens from low-income families, according to a new study on adolescents.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that schools in low-income districts should schedule brief bouts of exercise in to their daily schedules.

The latest study compared the effects of exercise of low-income adolescents with their high-income peers. While both groups of adolescents experienced a boost in selective visual attention of up to 45 minutes after exercising, researchers found that kids in the low-income group experienced greater benefit.

Researchers explain that selective visual attention is a person's ability to remain visually focused on something in the presence of distractions.

The findings also showed that low-income students improved on tests of reading comprehension after exercise. However, students from high-income families did not show improvement in reading comprehension.

Lead researcher Michele Tine, an assistant professor of education and principal investigator in the Poverty and Learning Lab at Dartmouth, attributes the difference between the two groups to levels of everyday stress.

"Low-income individuals experience more stress than high-income individuals, and stress impacts the same physiological systems that acute aerobic exercise activates," Tine said in a news release. "Physiological measures were beyond the scope of this study, but low-income participants did report experiencing more stress. Alternatively, it is possible that low-income individuals improved more simply because they had more room to improve."

The findings were published in the journal Educational Psychology.

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