According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, only two out of every five children get sufficient physical activity during the day, usually in the form of unorganized and organized sports (read about it here: http://bit.ly/eNc7nR). In other words, 60% of Canadian children are not getting enough physical activity throughout their day, and that can have serious repercussions on academic performance. Over the years, many studies have been done to look at the correlation between fitness and academic achievement (read a Stanford study here: http://bit.ly/gA6QSd). Almost all of them show a statistically significant link between a child’s fitness level and his or her academic success.
So why is exercise so important for our brains to function properly? First of all, exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, which increases oxygen and glucose levels. Both of these levels are vital for the brain to work properly and at a high speed. Physical exercise improves a person’s vascular health, so the effects of even just half an hour of walking can help improve brain function. Not only that, but studies on animals have shown that exercise promotes new neuron growth, increases gray matter and improves synaptic connections (read about it here: http://bit.ly/aLnIp3). While these effects have only been observed in animals so far (due to limits in technology), researchers believe that similar effects can take place in people. Finally, exercise may have a significant impact on those who are at risk for Alzheimer’s. Physical exercise has been shown to improve functional memory. New studies have demonstrated that by increasing the amount of exercise, one can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and make it less severe (read about a new study here: http://bit.ly/fidWuA). In other words, exercise makes your brain and your body stronger and more efficient. All in all, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to increasing the amount of exercise in you and your family’s life.
In our next blog, we’re going to continue our discussion about exercise and how you can help your children squeeze in more activity each day.