According to one study, exercise can help children’s vocabulary acquisition.

vocabulary acquisition
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The study, which was published in the journal ‘Journal of Speech-Language and Hearing Research,’ documented one of the first investigations on the influence of exercise on vocabulary development in youngsters. Children ages 6 to 12 were taught new terms before participating in one of three activities: swimming, CrossFit exercises, or coloring sheets.

In follow-up tests of vocabulary words, the children who swam were 13% more correct.

It makes sense to the lead researcher, Maddy Pruitt, a former college swimmer who now attends CrossFit courses on a daily basis. “Motor movement aids in the encoding of new words,” she explained, adding that exercise has been shown to enhance levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein Pruitt refers to as the “Miracle-Gro of the brain.”

So, why did swimming make a difference while CrossFit didn’t? Pruitt ascribed it to the quantity of energy required by the brain throughout each activity. Swimming is an activity that children can do without much thought or guidance.

While the CrossFit activities were new to them, it was more automatic. The children had to learn the moves, which took mental energy. Pruitt completed the study as part of her Master’s Capstone Project and will graduate in 2020. She is currently a speech-language pathologist in an elementary school in South Carolina, where she puts her research to use.

“My sessions are almost never at a table,” she explained. “I’m going to take my kids to the playground or for a walk around the school.” Giovanna Morini, Pruitt’s mentor, and collaborator, is expanding on her lab’s findings.

According to Morini, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, most study on exercise looks at it from the standpoint of a healthy lifestyle, with little attention paid to language acquisition. She views this as a rich area of inquiry and has another student conducting a similar experiment with toddlers right now.

“We were quite enthusiastic about this study since it is applicable to physicians, carers, and educators who can put it into practice,” Morini added. “It’s not something out of the norm. However, it has the potential to significantly improve the outcomes ” Morini came to a conclusion.