Little exercise boosts attention span of poor school kids

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New York: Just 12 minutes of exercise can improve attention and reading comprehension in low income adolescents, says a new study, suggesting that schools serving low income populations should work brief bouts of exercise into their daily schedules.

The study compared low income adolescents with their high income peers.

While both groups saw improvement in selective visual attention up to 45 minutes after exercising, the low income group experienced a bigger jump.

Selective visual attention is the ability to remain visually focused on something despite distractions.

The low income students also improved on tests of reading comprehension following the physical activity, but the high income students did not, said researchers from Dartmouth College, commonly referred to as Dartmouth, in New Hampshire.

"Low income individuals experience more stress than high income individuals and stress impacts the same physiological systems that acute aerobic exercise activates," said lead study author Michele Tine, assistant professor at Dartmouth.

"Alternatively, it is possible that low income individuals improved more simply because they had more room to improve," he added.

The study also explored, for the first time, exercise's effects on reading comprehension and found its positive impact on low income adolescents.

The paper was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

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