Recent Study Ties Physical Activity to Longer Attention Span

A recent study out of the University of Granada has linked participating in physical activity with longer attention spans. Better cognitive abilities such as time perception were also higher in physically active participants. It has been generally known that physical activity lends itself to better overall health outcomes, but this study clearly illustrates a strong relationship between physical activity and longer attention spans. Antonio Luque Casado, a researcher from the University of Granada’s Department of Experimental Psychology made it clear that the study’s results are “preliminary” and future investigations must take place to confirm the correlation. However, implications from this study must be realized. What can be drawn from the results of this study and applied to today’s society? Perhaps we can consider the incredible spike in attention deficit disorder diagnoses in children in the past decade.

 According to the CDC, as of 2007, 2.7 million youth ages 4-17 were receiving medication treatment for ADHD.  This figure is only 66.3% of those with a current diagnosis in 2007. More recent statistics were unavailable, but I only expect them to be higher. Although the data is six years old, it is absolutely astonishing… 2.7 million youth on medication to help them concentrate?! Perhaps children are over-diagnosed with ADHD and in reality are not receiving adequate time for physical activity. We are all aware that this generation of children may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents due to chronic health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. We must evaluate our society’s pressing health issues and realize their complexities and multidimensional factors. We must acknowledge noted research studies, such as this one, and make evidence-based health policy decisions. If physical activity helps increase an individual’s attention span, we must demand that schools and youth programs provide sufficient physical activities such as recess and physical education classes. If youth are given more time to be active, we may be able to address attention deficit disorder and obesity, two pressing health issues, with one solution.