Get Kids Moving to Boost Brain Power
A new consensus statement which includes a position statement from a researcher at the University of Exeter suggests that one way to boost kids’ and young people’s brain power is to get them to exercise regularly.
Considering the fact that in many schools nationwide physical education is now limited, as is recess and lunch break time, this new data suggests that educators should be using some lesson time for exercise. The panel of international experts who contributed to the consensus statement hailed from the UK, Scandinavia, the U.S., and Denmark. The document contains 21 separate statements on four themes of fitness and health: Intellectual performance, engagement, motivation and well-being, and social inclusion. It discusses physical activity in school and during leisure time, for a range of ages, six to eighteen year olds. Discussions and conclusions in the statement included:
1. Physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness are important to young children and young people’s brain development, as well as to their intellect.
2. Timing of exercise sessions before, during and after school helps to boost academic prowess
3. A single session of moderate-intensity exercise has immediate and positive impact on brain function, intellect and academic performance
4. Mastering basic exercise moves helps to boost brain power and academic performance
5. Time that is taken away from school lessons and devoted to exercise does not come at the cost of academic performance and getting good grades
In fact, the statement paper goes on to assert that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness are “good predictors” of the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later-in-life, and vigorous exercise in childhood and teen years can lower risk factors.
Additionally, more frequent moderate and even low intensity exercise efforts help to improve kids’ cardiac health and metabolism, and exercise really intercepts many diseases including obesity. Regular exercise also helps to build important life skills and can help to foster relationships with peers, coaches and parents. It can also promote social inclusion and limit bullying opportunities. Modeling these types of behaviors will help to imprint these lifestyle behaviors in the early, formative years of your child.
One key statement from the paper with regards to incorporating physical activity into every aspect of school life, focused on the need to maintain protected public spaces like bike lanes, parks and playgrounds. The report suggests that these efforts “are effective strategies for providing equitable access to and enhancing physical activity for, children and youth.”
Parents can also play a huge role in terms of encouraging after-school sports and fitness time and weekend leisure activities that include physical activity.