Physical and mental exercise has been found to be beneficial for our brains, but scientists have now found it could also improve the learning ability of our children.

In a mouse study, researchers found the benefits gained from these activities were passed on to their offspring, despite not altering their DNA.

Further research is needed to see if this replicates in humans.

The German study is being published in the journal Cell Reports.

Exercise is recommended to keep the mind sharp in the over-50s and doing puzzles and brain training exercises has been found to delay the onset of dementia and reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Researchers from the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) found that when they exposed mice to a stimulating environment in which they also had plenty of exercise, their offspring which they had later also benefitted.

The younger mice achieved better results in tests that evaluated their learning ability than the control group.

They also had improved synaptic plasticity - which is a measure of how well nerve cells communicate with each other and the cellular basis for learning.

They found this in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is important for learning.

This phenomenon is known as epigenetic inheritance.