The battle cry for this generation of parents is all about luring our children out from behind their screens and into the yard. Our increasing sedentary life is now creeping into the lives of our kids. Where many of us spent our childhood playing outside from sunrise to sunset, due to a lot of factors, this simply isn’t happening anymore.
But exercise, even in children who don’t have an obesity issue, is still incredibly important. If we leave any legacy at all for our children, it should be about taking the best care of their bodies and minds that they can. Here is some important information that makes the case for instilling a spirit of exercise into our kids.
Studies have shown that, in children, aerobic fitness is associated with both better cognitive performance and academic achievement. Fitness is also associated with greater brain volume in the hippocampus, a structure heavily implicated in memory. Overall, aerobically fit children tend to have better brain function, cognitive performance and brain structure.
These three facts don’t even mention the overall health benefit. It doesn’t talk about the cardiovascular system or metabolic rate. Kids think better when they’ve gotten exercise.
Just like we push our kids to eat a wholesome first meal of the day to increase their ability to pursue their academic day, we should be approaching exercise the same way. The work we do now for our kids will benefit them long after they’ve become adults.
For example, these exercise trends continue into later life where aerobic activity is associated with better executive function; multi-tasking, planning, inhibition and enhanced frontal cortex regulation. Increased brain volume, therefore is associated with both aerobic activity and better cognitive performance.
You aren’t just fighting sugar calories when you insist your children go out and play, you are setting them up for long term brain health benefits. Did you know, that the 2010 Framingham Longitudinal Study, a comprehensive long-term study that began in 1948 and is now tracking the third generation of subjects, confirmed that daily brisk walks led to a 40 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s or any kind of dementia later in life?
As busy parents, we sometimes view exercise as our adult time and getting out of the house to go workout and clear your head is a very important stress management function. Did you ever stop and think how you can make exercise a family affair? Could you take family hikes? Walk instead of drive? Bike instead of walk? Play a family sport?
There are so many opportunities to model and implement good exercise health that can give your kids the chance to experience that best brain health. Not to mention, that kids experience stress too and this will help them better handle the things that are thrown at school age children these days.
By incorporating exercise into your family culture, you are arming your children with one of the most powerful healers that they can get their hands on. Your long term health status is largely under your control. And kids are no different than adults in their needs and the benefits from regular exercise.
The research also backs it up.
What all of it proves, and what we’ve consistently seen in our clinic, is that regular exercise is a tremendously powerful way to heal your brain on a cellular level, increase its strength and resilience, and all but guarantee a life free of Alzheimer’s. If you or someone you love is suffering from cognitive impairment, an exercise program will yield immediate benefits.