Benefits of Exercise on the Brain

Benefits of Exercise on the Brain

No one will argue that exercise is good for you. Exercise improves cardiovascular health, helps control weight and blood pressure, and helps us have more energy. More and more evidence is mounting that regular exercise improves mental and physical skills.

…something as simple as kids having a chance to play on playground equipment before school starts in the morning may affect their behavior and concentration in school.

For school-age children, outdoor exercise has even more benefits. Taking your kids to play at the park, going on a walk, or playing sports may help your child to have a healthy body. More and more studies are finding a link between healthy bodies and better performance in school. Scientific studies are proving what every parent suspects—that strong bodies equal strong minds. Exercise is essential for success at school. So, your time on the school playground equipment was actually helping. But schools can’t make exercise breaks optional anymore because of all the potential benefits.

EXERCISE AND LEARNING: Scientific studies show what most parents already know, strong bodies equal strong minds.

Benefits of exercise

Increased academic performance. A study cited in the Journal of Pediatrics found that a positive relationship exists between academic performance and motor skills and aerobic exercise. What that means is that if kids have recess at school and have the chance to run around, play sports, and/or climb on playground equipment, they will not only be strengthening their physical bodies but will be helped academically as well.

Increased focus and concentration for every student, but having a greater impact on students with ADHD symptoms. The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology reports that a 2014 study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Vermont found that offering before-school programs based on aerobic exercise decreased ADHD symptoms at school and at home. This means that something as simple as kids having a chance to play on playground equipment before school starts in the morning may affect their behavior and concentration in school.

Increased cognition or the ability to learn. Studies have shown that exercise can slow or even reverse cognitive decline in older people with dementia. For school-age children, studies reported by the UK’s Centre for Educational Neuroscience have shown that aerobic exercise can increase the plasticity of the brain and can affect learning in a number of different ways: “perceptual skills, intelligence quotient, verbal tests, mathematic tests, memory, developmental level, and academic readiness in all ages from 4-18 years.” Exercise is essential to being “smart” at school.

Increased positive behavior at home and at school. In a study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, reported in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, an increase in exercise during the school day had positive behavioral effects in the classroom and at home. The far-reaching effects of something so simple are astounding. Exercise not only affects kids at school but can have positive effects for hours afterward.

The bottom line is that exercise can’t be considered something extra, like a reward for children for good behavior or for finishing homework. It is essential to their learning, behavior, and brain health. Exercise needs to be part of every school day and every day at home. Every school and pre-school should have a playground for kids to play on, with the proper safety measures in place, of course. Playgrounds are the perfect way for exercise to be playful and spontaneous and fun.

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