Monday, January 5, 2015

Regular Exercise Leads to Better Health for the Body and the Brain

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Happy New Year! With a new year may come a resolution to get into shape. Last week, we posted about the importance of eating well. In tandem with that comes the need for regular exercise.

Exercise not only can lead to a healthier life but also can lead to a more academically accomplished life as well. In our book, Thinking for Results: Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement By As Much as 30 Percent, we cite research suggesting that movement is essential for the Body-Brain System to be in a peak state for thinking and learning.

Even just standing and walking can increase the blood supply to the thinking areas of the brain significantly. Additionally, breakthroughs in cognitive neuroscience show that various movements require extremely high levels of cognitive function.

In the classroom, regular physical activity and a focus on fitness has been linked to higher academic performance. Specifically, a 2010 American Heart Association study showed a correlation between physical fitness and better results on standardized tests for a group of students in the fifth through seventh grades. In addition to better academic performances, the study provided evidence that the students were healthier and happier as well.

We recommend allowing time for physical exercise and movement in order to maximize learning. Learning is best achieved when children are given the opportunity to stand, stretch, run, and/or play. For young children who have not yet developed a large capacity for attention, time in the playground for informal, unstructured play can be especially important. For older children and adults, a good solid workout or even a walk around the block can help the brain function more efficiently.

So, here's to 2015 and a year of sensible nutrition, regular exercise, and good health for both your body and your brain!

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