It seems kind of obvious that kids these days need more exercise. After all, how often have we all lamented about the fact that only a couple of decades ago we played outside and not in front of electronics and screens? Between tablets, computers, TVs, video games and cell phones, kids nowadays are growing up in a pretty different culture than we did.
As a result, we also recognize that less exercise is leading to more obesity and potential long-term health problems with our munchkins. But what we may not realize is that kids need exercise for a less obvious reason too: to boost their brain power.
According to a consensus statement published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, we need to make sure that we put just as much emphasis on our kids getting physical activity before, during and after school as we do on their actual school work. With public schools moving away from physical activity time in order to focus on other programs, this statement (which hails from 24 representatives from eight countries including Canada) comes at a pretty relevant time.
“Exercise during the day shows immediate improvement in academic performance,” says Dr. Marla Shapiro in the video above. “It doesn’t matter if it’s moderate, vigorous or even a little bit, there are a lot of benefits that we don’t think about when it comes to exercise.”
The Canadian expert points out that not only does exercise boost brain power — which means that kids who get it tend to do better in school — but group sports and physical activity have other hidden life lessons too, like learning to be responsible for your team, communication and cooperation.
“These are life skills that you need to succeed generally,” she adds.
So what’s a parent to do if the school isn’t willing to tack on more physical activity? Well, if the school is close enough, you could always consider walking rather than driving to add in that extra bit of morning and afternoon activity. Or consider some sort of after school program that incorporates exercise, or even sign your kids up for group sports. If you find something they enjoy doing, they won’t even know it’s exercise in the first place!
Check out more in the video, above.