The Effect of Acute Treadmill Walking on Cognitive Control and Academic Achievement in Preadolescent Children

Key Takeaway: Single, short bouts of moderately-intense exercise like walking can improve cognitive control and attention in children.


  • After walking for 20 minutes, children completed a test of cognition more accurately and had more intense neural activity than after sitting.
  • In this study, participants performed better on achievement tests of reading comprehension but not spelling or arithmetic after participating in exercise compared with resting.


  • This study conducted cognitive tests after exercise among 20 preadolescent children. Children participated in 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill at 60% maximum heart rate. Results were compared to a resting session of cognitive testing followed by an aerobic fitness test among the same participants on separate days.

Hillman CH, Pontifex MB, Raine LB, Castelli DM, Hall EE, Kramer AF. (2009). The effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic achievement in preadolescent children. Neuroscience, 159(3):1044-1054. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.01.057

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