All About Kids The Newsletter About Taking Care of the Ones That Matter Most
Exercise Can Improve a Child’s Academic Performance Why exercise impacts academics
There are many reasons for the connection between physical activity and academic performance, beginning with its impact on the development of the brain. Researcher Charles Basch from Columbia University outlined how exercise affects executive functioning of the brain: • “[Increased] brain-derived neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in the developing brain.” Neurotrophins help the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking; Three-pronged approach Arguably, there are more ways to improve a child’s physical activity level than the three suggestions listed here. However, the most common approaches tackle threemainareas:school life,home life,andprofessional intervention. The CDC recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. For the most benefits, the majority of exercise should be aerobic, with some time spent doing muscle-strengthening exercises and some time spent doing bone- strengthening activities. Here are some ways to fit that in: School life With an increased focus on standardized testing and Common Core standards, there has been an unfortunate decline in physical fitness offerings in school. This is detrimental to children’s physical and mental health, as well as their academic achievement. One way to improve this is to increase the time spent in P.E. classes. Before and after-school activities should also be offered, and teachers of academic courses can incorporate physical coordination into lesson plans. Home life Families can model healthy behaviors by participating in sports together, going on walks, partaking in physical activities, and generally spending time away from the couch. Children’s first teacher is at home, and this is often where healthy choices are either encouraged or discouraged. Professional intervention Many families struggle to know the best exercise regimen for their child (or themselves). As such, they turn to professionals, such as pediatric physical therapists, to develop a plan. Physical therapists can help people become active while reducing unnecessary pain. They can guide students • Increased flow of oxygen to the brain; • Increased brain neurotransmitters.
through physical movements and teach safety measures important to success. Often, they will measure a child’s current fitness level to develop a plan appropriate to the child’s needs. If you’re seeking professional insight and want help encouraging your child to become more physically active, consult with a pediatric physical therapist for guidance.
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