In Coaching, Kids, Videos

February 24, 2011

Video Article

“Can movement be equated to learning? If you’re fit, are you smarter?” asks Dr. Jon Gary, a member of CrossFit Kids. According to Dr. Gary, CrossFit Kids gives us a unique opportunity to enhance a child’s brain development.

Gary cites studies that support a link between physical activity and cognitive development. Even with identical twins, IQ tracks with physical fitness, not genetic endowment.

“It’s not necessarily your genes but what you do with them in your environment that really matters,” he says.

According to Gary, ample evidence from the physiological/anatomical level and the molecular/biochemical level supports the statistics.

“If you exercise, you can actually grow new brain cells,” he says.

The part of the brain that grows new neurons is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

For additional info, check out research by Dr. Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois, as well as research by Dr. Fred Gage of the Salk Institute.

16min 33sec

Additional reading: Will CrossFit Make American Kids Smarter? by Lisa Bakshi, published Jan. 26, 2009.

Free Download


10 Comments on “CrossFit Kids: Memory and Learning ”


wrote …

Very good illustration of association and causation. Nice to hear in the Journal!


wrote …

That was awesome, thanks doc!


Super cool. And I have to say it's NOT just youngsters. I showed a statistical effect for this in College students. I used CF and Ancestral Eating strategies in my evolutionary science class. It was a great way to have students "walk the walk" to "talk the talk" (Coming out in Evolution: Education and outreach next issue) - not only that but in the post experimental window the increased movement and exercise group reported greater concentration, sleep and study habits. They also reported decreased anxiety even given the fact that they were spending less total time studying, because they had their hour of exercise, they stated that the exercise actually felt like it increased their studying efficiency. This is great stuff Doc and thanks for posting and sharing in the journal!


Just watched your vid again with my wife and thought of a question:

1) you mentioned a statistical relation between BMI and cognitive performance, but since we know that BMI is a worthless measure (generally speaking), there is also evidence suggesting that WHR (waist-to-hip ratio) a much better measure of physiological adaptability has been shown to be related to cognitive potential (and it would be interesting to see if the same effect is true in should to hip ratio (SHR) in males). WHR & SHR are so important in sex-specific behavioral phenotypes it seems as though they might also predict predisposition to hippocampal neurogenesis; i.e. maybe optimal WHR/SHR predict the curve, or rate of neurogenesis in hippocampus. I think something like this has been demonstrated in rodents (using species specific optimal characteristics, not WHR/SHR, obviously).

I REALLY NEED TO GO FOR A CF KIDS CERT! Great stuff! Gonna go check availability now.


wrote …

Many learning difficulties in children aged 7-10 can be tracked back to a very simple movement they by-passed as a toddler: Crawling. Many children go straight into walking without barely crawling on all fours, and this avoids certain cerebral functions from developing correctly. There was a study and experiment that took place a few years ago here in Spain where children with certain learning difficulties were made to crawl. A few weeks later they were back on track with their studies.


Diego, if you have access or a link to that study, that would be awesome to read.


wrote …

I can't imagine why school systems are so eager to cut physical education (and the arts, for that matter) out of the curriculum so quickly. Even before watching this, I could tell you from experience that fitter people tend to also be smarter. What is wrong with out country???


wrote …

with our*


wrote …

WOW. I really enjoyed this piece. I suffered a bit of information overload though and I have a Masters Degree in Science. Just the same the message is clear, Drink the Kool-aid and give it to your kids.


wrote …

I think we will be heariong more about proprioception as a (or the primairy) mechanism responsible for these positive changes.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)