Shout out to Parents, Lawmakers, and Teachers: What Exercise Can Do
In the last 30 years there’s been a decline in the number of minutes that kids exercise. Experts believe that this has contributed to rising rates of childhood diabetes and diabetes type 2. Exercise is more than just movement to improve heart health. Researchers have connected exercise to brain health, cognition, and scholastic achievement. Interestingly enough, one of the reasons there is less physical exercise at school is to allow for more academic time. We now know that the lack of exercise time is actually contributing to students’ decreased academic performance.
The majority of students in the U.S. do not engage in any form of planned exercise during the school week. Studies show that kids who do engage in physical activity outperform their less active peers in the classroom and on tests. Radiographic studies show that kids who exercise actually have greater brain volume in the basal ganglia and the hippocampus areas of the brain, areas associated with cognitive control (thought, action, behavior, and decision-making) and memory.
The ability to concentrate appears to be connected to exercise time. Kids who exercise more have better concentration skills. Exercise appears to help with focused concentration and the ability to complete tasks. These findings hold true in the special needs sector and for normally developing children.
This should be a wake-up call to parents, lawmakers and school officials to re-think their position on the importance of exercise in a school curriculum and how dollars should be spent in order to achieve academic excellence. Exercise time is clearly crucial for weight balance and academic achievement!
-Amy Hendel, PA/HealthCoach