Exercise Boosts Brain Power!

If you are someone who exercises regularly, you know the feeling you get after a good workout.  You feel accomplished, energized and ready to take on the day.  There is no debating that regular exercise brings many health benefits, like weight control, lower blood pressure, skeletal health, psychological well-being and self-esteem.  But did you also know that physical activity leads to better learning.  Over the years, a number of scientists have shown the correlation between high standardized test scores and physical fitness scores (CA Dept. of Education study).   According to an International study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, children who get more exercise also tend to do better in school.  Regular exercise in gym class, or on the playground improves attention span, memory, and learning.  At the University of Illinois, Dr. Charles Hillman’s research shows that after a 30 minute stint on the treadmill, students actually do up to 10% better at problem solving.  “It’s good for attention, it’s good for how fast individuals process information, and how they perform on cognitive tasks” says Hillman.  Researcher, John Ratey, of the Harvard Medical School, says “Exercise makes our brain more ready to learn”.  
The connection between exercise and success in the classroom is not perfectly clear, but research shows a positive association.  That may be because physical activity improves blood flow to the brain, which increases brain function and improves concentration levels.  Increased blood and oxygen can also lower stress level and boost moods.  Becky Hashim, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Children’s Hospital of Montefiore in New York City notes “It’s hard to tease apart the exact reason for this association.  It may be that the children are getting more oxygen”.  Our brain needs oxygen to think, and improved thinking enhances grades.    

Experts suggest children engage in some form of exercise every day.  The best part is that exercise is simply about moving your body.  So even if you are not interested in competitive sports or aren’t playing on a school team, you can still find some sort of activity to get you moving.  Your mind and body will benefit from taking a walk, riding a bike, throwing a Frisbee or dancing.  It does not have to be an organized activity, just something you find enjoyable and gets your heart pumping.  Being active will also help you sleep better, feel more energetic and decrease levels of stress.  Find a way to be active every day and set up a lifetime habit that will give your mind and body enormous benefits.    This past summer Iroquois Springs built a brand new fitness center complete with an aerobics studio, spin room, and cardio/weight room.  Campers enjoyed having this wonderful addition all summer long, and got into terrific shape.  Our fitness director, Tara did a fantastic job of getting both campers and staff active and fit throughout the summer.