Exercise Helps Kids' Brains

Article | The Houston Institute of Neurology for Kids

By: Jacob Marchesano

After a review of 14 studies, researchers concluded that the more physical activity children have the more likely they are to do better academically. All 14 studies involved children ranging in ages 6 to 18. Physical activity and sports are generally advocated for the positive effect they have on children’s health. There are several educated guesses for why exercise is beneficial for mental activities including increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain, increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins resulting in a reduction of stress and an improvement of attitude, and increased growth factors that help create new nerve cells and support the changes in the brain.            

Outside of the 14 studies reviewed, another study illustrated that during exercises animal nerve cells would release proteins known as neurotropic factors. The one in particular is called brain-derived neurotropic factor that triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. Exercise provides protective effects on your brain through the production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to your brain, improved development and survival of neurons, and decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Another animal study revealed that regular exercise helped monkeys learn new tasks twice as quick as monkeys who weren’t exercising. Researchers believe this finding would hold true for people as well.

Keeping kids active at school is a great way to increase learning, focus and test results. Children will have better thinking skills, more confidence, improved moods, and a better nights sleep. Your child doesn’t have to be a track star or NBA player in the making to obtain the brain boosting benefits. Around the world physical activity and the benefits it has on the brain is becoming more widespread but schools are still removing instead of improving physical education programs. That means it’s up to you to inspire your child to stay active. There’s no doubt that kids need to exercise especially with the physical and mental benefits that come along with it.