Exercise for Success in School

February 11, 2015, Chennai

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For Parents and Educators| By Shubha Janardhan | June 13, 2015

Regular workouts benefit the brain and the body.


 It’s true! Your growing child need as much physical activity they can get so  that their brain grows just as fast!

If you’ve ever told your child to stop playing around and do their homework, here’s something to consider. While studying is important, encouraging your child to run around or play in the ground might be just as important. Research shows that regular exercise can help children succeed in school (yes, it’s true).

In addition to the wonderful health benefits of regular physical activity and exercise, a growing body of research conducted over many years indicates that the brain benefits tremendously, as well. Cardiovascular exercise has been linked to better performance in math and reading and on even in IQ tests. It’s also really effective for working memory and problem-solving! So if you want your child to start doing well in school, better them to moving !

Speaking physiologically, physical movement of the body increases blood flow to the brain as well as the flow of oxygen, and it contributes to the growth of nerve cells in the part of the brain associated with learning and memory. All the research evidence supports physical activity’s advantages, but unfortunately, many children these days simply aren’t getting enough physical activity during school hours and even if they  do, it is not the right kind of activity.  While playing basketball is great under the sun and the sand, inadequate time to play and poor environments cause harm.

If your child doesn’t get 60 minutes of exercise each day at school or in after-school sports, it may be time for you to take the lead and have them do it at home.  The good news is that it’s possible to incorporate fitness and physical exercise into even the busiest of days.

You need to concentrate on keeping their feet moving  more than anything else.  It’s also got to be fun or children won’t want to do it.

Experts suggest throwing paper plates on the floor and having your child put a foot on each plate to slide around and dance to music. Children love to dance and it might be a great way to get them to do physical activity. Another great physical exercise is swimming.  If you can become a member of a pool near your home, nothing like it.  60 minutes of your child doing laps in the pool will make them incredibly healthy.

But keep in mind, you don’t want to schedule something and your child gets bored of the routine.  Have your child pick out their activity list for the day and the way they will do it. 

The point is setting a balanced screen time and getting them up and out of the house automatically translates into increased physical activity. The key is however making sure they are motivated to do it on their own rather than you pushing them to do so.  If your child is not up for swimming that day, give them a choice – either they can do yoga with you or they can run up and down the stairs as fast they can.  

Let’s now talk about weekends.  As a busy parent, weekends are sure to be your retreat. But, they can also provide more opportunities for families to be active together. Depending on where you live, choose an activity that’s easy to organize. If you are near a beach, then go running in the morning with your child and then have a breakfast picnic with your children.  If you are near a sports track, then maybe you can train for running with them! Children love it when their parents are involved in their lives.

This is a great time for you to capitalize on the brain benefits that physical activity provides and try working in some additional ways for your children to be active during after-school hours. Not only will it boost their academic success, it will also deliver a valuable side benefit—more time together as a family resulting in healthy and happy children.

One way to schedule more physical activity into your child’s day is to do something before school, whether it’s swimming or doing yoga. In addition to increasing your child’s brain power, exercising before school has the added benefit of reducing behaviour problems during class.

Whatever the way you organize your child’s physical activity schedule, make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes a day.  A healthy body and a healthy brain make for an awesome child!

Shubha Janardhan is the Co-Creator of Nidara.  

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