Physical Fitness Leads to Better Grades in School
How times have changed. My mom and dad, when concerned about fun exercises, used to tell me to “Go outside and play.” Do any parents still tell their children to do that? Are parents no longer concerned about physical fitness and physical activities for children?
Today it’s more about, “Put down that iPhone and do your homework.” Noted columnist Thomas Friedman observed: “When I was growing up, my parents told me, ‘Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ I tell my daughters, ‘Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving – for your job!’”
Previous generations had the common sense to tie physical fitness and physical activity to kids doing better overall. Now it’s backed by science, with studies by the National Academy of Science, the CDC, major universities and statewide departments of health.
Their studies found that when children are physically active and engaged in fun exercises, there is a related significant improvement in their cognitive functioning and academic performance. They also found that children are healthier.
There are many benefits of physical activity for children. More kids’ activities means less fat, reduced childhood obesity rates, more muscular strength, a decrease in type II diabetes, a reduced likelihood of cardiac disease, lower blood pressure, stronger immune system and better mental health. But who doesn’t really know this already? Don’t skip over those words though. We are talking about your children’s wellbeing and longevity.
Research continues to highlight how physical activities improve learning and grades. Charles Basch, who does brain research at Columbia University, reported that when children get vigorous or moderate levels of exercise for at least 20 to 60 minutes a day – which only half the population of children in America do – they benefit from increased oxygen to their brain, creating elevated neurotransmitters and neurotrophins that support learning, memory and higher order thinking. And it’s not just grades that improve with increased exercise, other benefits include improved social relations, lowered drop-out rates and reduced absenteeism. In addition, higher-order thinking – or good “executive functioning” – improves goal setting, self-monitoring and control, and attention.
Still want to cut those PE funds in schools? The National Association for Sport and Physical Education urges that children have 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Instead of cutting Physical Education, schools ought to be offering 150 minutes per week of PE for younger children, and 225 minutes per week for older youngsters and teens.
According to the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people aged six- to 17-years old participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
The CDC also cites that in 2011, 29 percent of high school students surveyed had participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on all seven days of the week before their survey, and only 31 percent attended physical education class daily.
Cardiorespiratory training, strength training, bone strengthening training – full-body activities that can easily be done on a Total Gym – can be added at home as a fun family activity with children. Children can safely work to their comfort level on squats, calf-raises, front pullovers, lying triceps extensions, chest presses, bicep curls, push ups, pull ups and many other age- and fitness-level appropriate exercise on the Total Gym.
Explain to your children the value of exercise. Do an experiment with them. Have them do 20 minutes of activity and then do some homework; then compare the difference to lying around and then doing homework. They will feel the difference. If you are adding Total Gym activities for your children, be sure they see you enjoying your workout. You can create a “buddy system” by encouraging your youngster to invite a friend over, or even create a small-group competition. Making physical activities fun, playful, enjoyable, successful and accessible are keys to adherence. A “family fitness” evening at the local park, gym or at home on the Total Gym is another excellent way to create buy-in and motivation.
If it’s better grades and over-all health you want to promote for your children, replace “Go do your homework” with “Go exercise – and then do your homework.”
We’d love to hear from you! How do you keep your children physically active? Let us know in the comments.