In our last blog, we talked about the importance of physical fitness for academic success http://wp.me/pT6KW-4V. Numerous studies have found a strong positive correlation between amount of exercise and test scores. In fact, exercise has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, and increase its plasticity. Now, we all know that exercise is good for us, but it’s not easy to find the time (or the motivation) to put our bodies (and minds) into action. However, as little as thirty minutes of walking per day can help you and your family improve brain health. If you’re stuck for ideas about how to get your kids moving, we have some right here to help you get started:
- Limit the screens. Is there too much staring at screens in your household? Talk to your kids about limiting TV and computer time. Ask them what their favourite programs are and create a schedule, so they know when they need to turn the tube off.
- Change the screen content. Still too much screen staring? If you have a Wii or Xbox, there are plenty of games that encourage physical exercise. Try playing tennis in your living room, or have a dance contest. These little spurts of exercise will add up and pay off.
- Schedule some play dates. Have your youngster get together with other children for a play date outside or in a spacious indoor room. They might have fun playing Hide-and-Seek, or Tag. Any game that gets children up and moving (without creating too much of a mess) is a great way for kids to get active and have fun.
- Schedule a family play date. Put in some family time by hosting a game of touch football or Capture the Flag in the backyard. Make it even more exciting by inviting another family over and splitting up into teams. You can also schedule other family activities, like hiking or biking, when the weather is nice out. If it’s not, try something new! Bowling, rock climbing or swimming are all great options to get your heart rate up while spending quality time together.
- Join a team. There are plenty of opportunities for children to join a sports team. Or if your child prefers, you can look into alternatives, such as dance or fencing. See what piques your child’s interest – if a child is invested and engaged in an activity, he or she is more likely to keep it up.
Remember, little increases in exercise can make a world of difference. You can use these suggestions as a springboard to help jump-start a more active lifestyle, or feel free to come up with some fun ideas of your own. Try to aim for at least half an hour, although an hour would be ideal. Even just getting off a stop early from the streetcar or subway and walking the extra mileage is a great way to add some activity into your day. So go ahead and get your heart and your brain pumping!