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Background Nervous system development in early life
influences the quality of cognitive ability during adulthood.
Neuronal development and neurogenesis are highly influenced
by neurotrophins. The most active neurotrophin is brain-derived
neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Physical activity has a positive
effect on cognitive function. However, few experimental studies
have been done on children to assess the effect of aerobic regular
exercise on BDNF levels.
Objective To assess the effect of regular aerobic exercise on
urinary BDNF levels in children.
Methods This clinical study was performed in 67 children aged
6-8 years in Palembang. The intervention group (n=34) engaged
in aerobic gymnastics three times per week for 8 weeks, while the
control group (n=33) engaged in gymnastic only once per week.
Measurements of urinary BDNF were performed on both groups
before and after intervention. Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon rank
tests were used to analyze the differences between groups.
Results There was no difference in urinary BDNF levels between
the two groups prior to the intervention. After intervention,
the mean urinary BDNF levels were significantly higher in the
intervention group than in the control group, 230.2 (SD 264.4)
pg/mL vs. 88.0 (SD 35.4) pg/mL, respectively (P=0.027). We also
found that engaging in aerobic gymnastics significantly increased
urinary BDNF levels from baseline in both groups (P=0.001).
Conclusion Regular aerobic exercise can increase urinary BDNF
levels and potentially improve cognitive function. Aerobic exercise
should be a routine activity in school curriculums in combination
with the learning process to improve children’s cognitive ability.
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