A meta-analysis of the impact of physical exercise on higher brain functions conducted by scientists at the VU University Amsterdam and published in the British Medical Journal on March 6, 2013, concludes that short bouts of exercise improve self-control in children, teenagers, and young adults.
Twelve of the 19 studies considered in the research looked at self-control and the effect short bouts of exercise had on children aged six to 12, teens aged 13 to 17 and young adults aged 18 to 35.
The results show a moderate but discernible improvement in self-control with regular short bouts of exercise.
Exercise resulting in increased blood and oxygen flow to the prefrontal cortex of the brain may explain the effect according to the researchers.
Inhibition is a necessary function in any social setting.
Regular exercise could produce a lower rate of bullying behaviors in school and at work as well as having the added benefit of weight control.
The reinstitution of mandatory exercise programs in schools might decrease the levels of violence that are prevalent in some schools.
The researchers contend that their findings are more relevant to an aging and increasingly sedentary society because this is the first documentable proof that exercise has a biochemical effect on a higher brain function that is commonly considered to be a behavior.