To Your Health
September, 2022 (Vol. 16, Issue 09)
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Good for Kids' Brains

By Editorial Staff

Exercise is great for everyone, but it's particularly important for children – for two key reasons. First, teaching your kids the value of consistent exercise plants the seeds (hopefully) for a lifetime of better health.

Second, in today's day and age, our children are exercising less and less (and replacing that activity with entirely inactive alternatives; i.e., lying around and staring at smartphones, tablets and computer screens).

Unfortunately, children are growing up heavier than ever, in part because of this increasing lack of physical activity. However, there's good news: Research indicates that exercise, which we know helps modify weight, has another significant health benefit for kids – it's good for their brains.

Here's how it works, per a recent study. Researchers divided overweight / obese preadolescents (average age: 10 years at baseline) into two groups. One group attended three or more (up to five per week) supervised, 90-minute exercise sessions in an out-of-school setting for 20 weeks. Each exercise session consisted of 60 minutes of aerobic exercises and 30 minutes of resistance exercises, focused on games and playful activities to maximize compliance.

A second group served as controls and continued their "usual routines." All study participants also received lifestyle recommendations regarding healthy nutrition and physical activity.

Results showed that the exercise intervention not only improved cardiorespiratory fitness (treadmill test) significantly compared to controls, but relative to brain health, exercise improved intelligence, cognitive flexibility and academic performance. The study authors note that these findings are particularly important considering their investigation was conducted "during a sensitive period of life (i.e., childhood) when the brain is growing and developing."

Can't figure out how to get your kids off the couch? We've published several articles on how to do just that. For example, click here to read "Getting Kids to Exercise" and here to read "5 Easy Exercises to Get Your Kids Excited About Fitness."