Most parents recognize that childhood obesity is a problem plaguing our children. Data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health shows that 31 % of American kids aged 10-17 are obese or overweight.
Obesity is caused by poor nutrition eating too many calories, especially of non-nutritious food – think Cheetos, Frosted Flakes, and donuts – as well as not getting enough exercise. But it has been proven that the exercise needs to be vigorous for at least 60 minutes a day. What has also been proven is that vigorous physical activity is tied to brain health. (ALERT! This is not only true for kids, but for adults as well.)
- A 2009 Stanford University study found that 5th, 7th and 9th grade students in California who passed the state physical fitness test and those whose fitness improved between 5th and 7th grade scored better than their less-fit peers on the state’s standardized tests.
- A 2013 study of nearly 12,000 Nebraska students also found that aerobically fit students were more likely to pass the state’s standardized math and reading tests, regardless of their weight or socioeconomic status
- Another 2013 study that randomly assigned 8- and 9-year-old Illinois children to a nine-month after-school fitness program found that the kids who fitness improved also got better at paying attention and ignoring distractions. They also improved to young-adult levels in their ability to regulate behavior.
Exposing kids to activities such as swimming, dance, gymnastics, basketball and soccer, is excellent way to improve our kids’ health and success in the classroom. To learn more, read “How a growing number of states are hoping to improve kids’ brains: exercise”.