JUL 11, 2016 5:21 AM PDT

Being Active Is Good For The Brain

The concept of physical exercise being a healthy habit is not new. Dozens of studies show the benefit of moderate exercise in terms of cardiovascular health, weight management, strength, endurance and so much more. However a recent statement from a group of researchers points to another benefit of exercise, the mental benefits. The statement is what’s called a “consensus statement” where a group of researchers, all experts in their field, come together and sign a statement on a particular issue. In this case it was about the boost young people get from physical exercise in terms of intellectual, social and cognitive abilities.
 Brain power is boosted in kids who exercise
In many schools, sometimes starting as young as 2nd or 3rd grade, more time is being taken away from physical activities like gym and recess to focus more on academics. The 24 researchers, doctors and scientists who signed the most recent statement, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, vehemently disagree with this practice. The panel of experts is made up of specialists from the UK, North America, Scandanavia, Denmark and Copenhagen and was signed in April 2016, and published in June 2016
 
It includes 21 separate statements on the four themes of fitness and health; intellectual performance; engagement; motivation and wellbeing; and social inclusion and compared performance in those areas to participation in both structured and unstructured physical activities. The data included young people between the ages of 6 and 18 years of age and tracked their physical activity both in school-sponsored events and their leisure time.
 
The results were squarely in favor of keeping physical activity as part of the school day for young people, and in fact suggested that physical activity was related to increased brain function and intellectual ability. The statements main points were as follows:
 
--Physical activity and specifically cardio fitness activities improved brain development, function and intellectual achievement.
 
--The timing of physical activity during the academic day was a definite factor. A session of some sort of physical exercise before, during, and after school resulted in improved academic performance
 
--The benefits of physical activity do not take long to become available to young people. A single session of moderately strenuous activity showed immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance.
 
--Mastery of basic movement, such as simple exercises like jumping jacks or running resulted in better grades and cognitive function.
 
--Contrary to some attitudes in highly competitive schools, taking time away from academic class time does not result in lower grades, but actually the opposite occurs, grades get better the more physical activity is included in the educational day.
 
Professor Craig Williams who is the Director of the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter was one of eight international speakers invited to provide expert statements to aid Danish colleagues revise the national consensus guidelines for young people in Denmark. In a press release, Professor Williams said, "Over the 30 years we have been researching the health and well-being of young people, we have seen the accumulation of pediatric data across physiological, psychological, environmental and social issues. This 21 point consensus statement reflects the importance of enhanced physical activity, not just in schools but sports and recreational clubs, with the family, and even for those children with long term illness. At all levels of society we must ensure that enhanced physical activity is put into practice." The video below explains more, check it out

Sources: University of Exeter, British Journal of Sports Medicine
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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