Get Kids Exercising to Boost Brain Power

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Jun 30 2016 - 12:03pm

It will be back to school before you know it! Start planning for a successful school year now by getting the kids on a regular schedule for physical activity.

Kids exercising

Exercise is obviously very good for the body in both kids and adults. But daily physical activity is more than just losing a few pounds and getting in shape. A consensus statement published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states that exercise can boost kids’ brain power and academic success.

The statement is important as many schools are considering limiting recreational time in order to maximize classroom learning.

Overall, the message is that fitness is important for children 6 to 18 years old because:

• Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children's and young people's brain development and function as well as their intellect

• A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess

• A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance

• Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance

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• Time taken away from lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades

Frequent moderate intensity exercise improves cardiovascular health and muscular fitness. These are strong predictors of the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

Regular physical activity can also help develop important life skills, and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing. And it can strengthen/foster relationships with peers, parents, and coaches.

And just as importantly, activities that take account of culture and context can promote social inclusion for those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation, skill levels and physical capacity.

Professor Craig Williams, Director of the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences at Exeter University says: "Over the 30 years we have been researching the health and well-being of young people, we have seen the accumulation of paediatric data across physiological, psychological, environmental and social issues. This 21 point consensus statement reflects the importance of enhanced physical activity, not just in schools but sports and recreational clubs, with the family, and even for those children with long term illness. At all levels of society we must ensure that enhanced physical activity is put into practice."

Journal Reference:
Jens Bangsbo, et al. The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth and physical activity in schools and during leisure time.British Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2016 DOI: 10.1136/njsports-2016-096325

Photo Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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