Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Daily exercise 'can boost pupils' secondary school results by a grade'
So who were the inactive ones? Probably lower class, who are dimmer anyway. The results may tell us NOTHING about exercise as such
One hour’s exercise each day can boost children’s GCSE results by a grade amid fresh evidence of a link between physical activity and academic achievement.
Researchers found that pupils could improve their results in a series of key academic subjects with increased exposure to activities such as PE, lunchtime games or cycling to school.
The study – based on an analysis of almost 5,000 schoolchildren – found that grades increased in direct correlation with the amount of physical exercise undertaken in the average day.
It emerged that an extra 17 minutes of exercise for boys and 12 minutes for girls at the age of 11 – beyond the current average for the age group – could boost children’s results by the age of 16.
Overall, researchers found an average of 60 minutes of “moderate to vigorous” physical activity could be the difference between achieving a C or B grade by the time pupils sat their GCSEs.
The effect was particularly marked for girls in science, it emerged.
The disclosure – in a study by academics at Dundee and Strathclyde universities – comes amid concerns that children in Britain are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles as they spend hours every day glued to televisions, the internet and games consoles.
Previous figures have shown that almost nine-in-10 children fail to get the 60 minutes of daily exercise recommended for a good health and a third complete less than an hour each week.
It is thought that physical activity can stimulate chemicals in the brain that lead to improvements in academic performance.
Repeated studies have also created a link between physical fitness and memory, attention span and "on-task" focus, which can have an effect on classroom performance.
Writing in today’s report, academics said: “If moderate to vigorous physical activity does influence academic attainment this has implications for public health and education policy by providing schools and parents with a potentially important stake in meaningful and sustained increases in physical activity.”
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was based on data from 4,755 children born in the early 90s and tracked through their education.
Scientists analysed physical activity levels for between three and seven days when children were aged 11 using a motion sensor.
Factors likely to influence academic attainment, such as birthweight, mother’s age at delivery, smoking during the pregnancy and socioeconomic factors were taken into account.
The study found that boys took part in an average of 29 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, while girls clocked up just 18 minutes. It was significantly less than the recommended level of 60 minutes for all children.
Academics then compared exercise regimes with children's academic performance in English, maths, and science at the ages of 11, 13 and 16.
Boys’ GCSE results at the age of 16 increased for every additional 17 minutes’ exercise – beyond the average – registered at the age of 11, while girls showed an improvement for each extra 12 minutes.
The study, led by Dr Josephine Booth, from Dundee, and Prof John Reilly, from Strathclyde, said that increasing activity levels among boys and girls to a recommended hour “would translate to predicted increases of academic attainment of almost one GCSE grade (eg. an increase from a grade C in English to a grade B)”.
Exercise appeared to impact on science results the most, particularly among girls.
“This is an important finding, especially in light of the current UK and European Commission policy aimed at increasing the number of females in science subjects,” the study said.
Forget creams and ointments – duct tape really can cure verrucas
Verrucas are a type of wart on the foot. People who go barefoot rarely get them. Wearing thongs (flip-flops) instead of shoes may also be protective
Quack remedies such as duct tape to cure verrucas and bathing in oats to cure skin complaints really can work, a panel of doctors has found.
Some sufferers of common complaints have sworn by household cures for years, which also include using the lubricant WD-40 to ease arthritis and drinking breast milk to cure infections.
They had never been put to the test until the Channel 4 programme Health Freaks, broadcast last night, carried out controlled studies on them.
Dr Ellie Cannon, a west London GP, was among the medics who assessed some of the unusual homespun treatments presented to them by advocates of the cures.
She said: “We know people do use duct tape for verrucas and we did see in the trial we did that it improved them for some. In one case the verruca went completely.”
One patient featured on the programme said they had had a verruca for eight years and had been unable to shift it until they used duct tape, which finally cleared it up.
In the trial, some participants used duct tape and some used Elastoplast.
Dr Cannon said further investigation was needed to establish why duct tape was so effective as a remedy, as this remained unclear.
She added: “It’s not what we would call a consistent treatment. It doesn’t work for everyone.
“The three of us on the panel had different theories about why it was working. It might be that the tape is starving the verruca of oxygen, or it might be that the adhesive in the tape is causing an immune reaction.”
Other unusual treatments tested on the programme include breast milk to cure infections and an oat bath for the skin complaint psoriasis.
Breast milk was found to be less effective than one might expect, Dr Cannon said, while oat baths did help a little.
Another homespun remedy, using the lubricant WD-40 to treat arthritis and chest pain, was suggested by two builders but was deemed to be too unsafe to trial.
Dr Cannon said: “One of the things that surprised me was just how widespread the use of some of these remedies is. WD-40 is so widely used on building sites to treat arthritis that the manufacturers have had to put a notice on their website saying it’s not for human use.
“In years gone by the remedy might only be known within a particular family but the internet has made them much more commonly known.
“Another thing that surprised me was how prepared people are to try out remedies that could have dangerous side-effects, like drinking their own urine.”
Other remedies that the doctors were presented with included amber necklaces to cure teething trouble, copper coins to clear up styes, turmeric as an acne cure and leeches to cure deep vein thrombosis.
The doctors concluded that many of the “cures” are a result of the placebo effect, when patients’ bodies heal themselves because the patient is convinced they have been given a miracle remedy.
“Even when people have three doctors telling them their treatment has no medical benefits, once they are in that zone, believing in their remedy, they won’t be persuaded otherwise.”
In the test, all of the people given duct tape found their verrucas shrank by at least one millimetre, whereas none of those who used surgical tape saw any difference at all.
Dr Cannon said: "I'll certainly suggest to my patients that they give it a try if they aren't having any success with other treatments."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:06 AM