Smart Kids Exercise

family fitnessDid your family vow to exercise more in the New Year, as mine did? We know it’s smart to exercise, but there’s also evidence that exercise actually helps kids be smarter as well.

I found a couple of studies researchers have done to test the theory and the results are fascinating: One study found that fourth- and fifth-grade students who ran around and otherwise exercised vigorously for at least 10 minutes before a math test scored higher than children who had sat quietly before the exam.

Another study found aerobic fitness to be a significant predictor of academic performance – even though overall weight didn’t play a role.

Talk about benefits from “going the extra mile!”

But while these studies offer more great reasons to put fitness at the top of your list, let’s face it…we’re busy! And it can seem overwhelming to consider building in one more activity.

But it’s so important that we wanted to share some ideas we came up with to help our family – and yours – incorporate fitness together!

  1. Go on an after-dinner walk. Bundle up and use the time to talk through the day and plan the evening – and week or weekend.
  2. Find an activity the whole family can enjoy. Sure, many kids are already involved in sports or dance, but if your child isn’t a “team sports” kid, there are plenty of other options – and some of them can be done as a family. Check into Tae Kwon Do, table tennis, or ice skating.
  3. Encourage active study breaks. As you plan the evening’s study session, throw in movement. Shoot some baskets on an indoor or outdoor hoop; or, fire up the Wii and play some tennis.
  4. Do a DVD together. Whether you think your kids would prefer to go high-action with Insanity, or bliss out with a yoga class, doing a workout together can be a great way to clear your mind before your evening’s studies, or calm down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
  5. Two words: Dance Party. After dinner why not throw on some tunes while you clean up and transition to study time? Have a dance off – show them your old school moves and see if you can do theirs. (You might want to proclaim it a twerk-free zone though!)
  6. Make your weekends active. Again, some of you may be sitting in a basketball gym all weekend anyway, but if you have free time on the weekend, consider finding a family activity you call can enjoy – whether it’s hiking, skiing or geocaching. The family that plays together stays together.
  7. Start a walking challenge.  Our team just kicked off a New Year’s walking challenge to see how much we can move every week.  It’s great for families too.  You can even incorporate some geography and math into your fitness by choosing destinations and seeing how fast you can “walk” there. Print out a chart that shows the miles between Point A and Point B, strap on a pedometer and see how fast and how far your daily steps can take you!

Family fitness is a worthy goal for many reasons, but the mounting evidence that it can translate to better test results is one more reason to get a move on!



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