Exercise Boosts Your Grades, Too!

by Traci F. Gardner, MD

For more than 10 years, scientists have been gathering evidence of the beneficial relationship between exercise and brainpower. In the past few months, it has been discovered that exercise indeed appears to have a positive impact on the brain, including those of children and young people.

For one, it helps the brain resists shrinkage. (Think: Bigger brain, smarter kid!) It also enhances the brain’s flexibility, which leads to a positive effect on the ability to think, to reason, to simply figure things out.

Recently, in an article headlined “Students with Strong Hearts and Lungs May Make Better Grades”, Sciencedaily.com noted findings presented at American Psychological Association 120th convention stating that a healthy heart and lungs may be the biggest factor for middle-school students looking to get high marks in math and reading. The University of North Texas study’s co-author stated cardiorespiratory exercise was the “only” factor that was “consistently” found to have a positive impact on grades in those subjects for boys and girls.

To a certain degree, those findings were supported by what we witnessed at the Olympics, where teenage gold medalists like gymnast Gabby Douglas and swimmer Missy Franklin proved to be as engaging and articulate away from competition as they were dominant in their fields.

Actually many researchers have shown that a regular exercise program is associated with improved health, including the maintenance or even enhancement of cognitive brain function. Another study that conducted its research on youth, this one done at Furman University in South Carolina, observed greater improvement in cognitive ability with 45 minutes of daily physical education.

Like other muscles, the brain declines with underuse and age. However we have now know exercise seems to slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay, much as it does with muscles. Newer research may even suggest that regular exercise might even boost the development of new brain cells which just a few years ago was thought to be impossible.

Daily exercise in not just for the body, it’s for your brain, too. It affects alertness, ability to think clearly, mood and performance – and not just for your kids.

So stimulate your brain with exercise and become a champion, too.

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