Research over the previous decade has shown that exercise during childhood affects the development of cognitive functions. Recent findings have indicated that these benefits of childhood exercise extend to the maintenance and promotion of cognitive functions in middle age and later life.
The researchers showed that people who are physically active during childhood (up to 12 years of age) have higher cognitive functions in later life.
However, they could not find a correlation between cognitive function and post-childhood physical activity.
The positive association between childhood exercise and cognitive function was evident in the modular (*1) segregation of brain networks, strengthened inter-hemispheric connectivity, greater cortical thickness, lower levels of dendritic arborization and decreased density.
During childhood, the formation of the brain’s network is susceptible to environmental and experience-related factors. It is thought that exercise during this period optimizes brain network development and is linked to the maintenance and promotion of cognitive function in later life.