We all know we should be exercising…right? We know it can help us stay at a healthy weight. We know it can make us stronger. But what about our brains? Can exercise actually make us smarter? According to Harvard University and the University of British Columbia…YES!
Exercise, especially the kind that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat, increases the production of growth hormones that help new blood vessels in the brain grow and keep the cells in the brain healthy. Regular exercise also helps us sleep more soundly which improves our cognitive ability as well.
The areas of the brain most affected by exercise are those that control thinking and memory. Those are two very important functions we generally use every day! We use them for work, for keeping our home and families organized, and for getting through other normal tasks.
The idea that exercise makes us smarter is very important when it comes to our kids. An article in the Journal of School Health showed that kids that did well on fitness tests did better on standardized tests too. Successful fitness tests occurred in schools where children had sufficient physical education time…as did the better standardized test scores. Our kids need regular sweaty aerobic exercise just like we do to help them access all that awesome in their brains.
f your child’s school doesn’t offer physical education daily, then their potential is being limited. You are encouraged to talk to your child’s school and school board to help change that. You can also make physical activity a family affair every day. Race your kids on foot or bike. Dance with reckless abandon with your kids to their favorite songs. Use YouTube videos of Zumba to lead your evening activities. Head to Caldwell Pediatrics and Wellness Center on Tuesday evenings to work out with Fitness Warriors. Do whatever it takes to get the fun activity into your lives so you can take care of your bodies and brains!
For more information on Fitness Warriors: 804-829-3550, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chomitz et al. Is There a Relationship Between Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement? Positive Results From Public School Children in the Northeastern United States. Journal of School Health, 2009; 79 (1): 30 DOI: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00371.x