Fitness boosts brains

Fitness boosts brains

February 26th, 2009 by Kathy Gilbert in Entertainment

Last month, Daisy Elementary Principal Kirk Shrum clipped a Parade magazine story about a study that shows physical activity boosts math and English scores among children.

"We definitely agree with the study," Mr. Shrum said. "We need to incorporate movement into our classrooms."

The study, "Physically Fit Kids Do Better in School," appeared in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of School Health.


All children 2 and older benefit from at least 30 minutes of activity a day. Break physical playtime into 10- or 15-minute sessions if necessary. - American Hear t Association

It showed that children in grades 4-8 who were more fit had higher rates of passing standardized math and English tests.

Brain studies back up the findings. Regular exercise has a beneficial effect on many brain functions, including reducing depression, according to a 2003 news release from the Society for Neuroscience.

Physical activities also help control weight, which lessens the chance of developing chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

"From 1999 to 2006 we saw a 600 percent increase in the number of times students left class to see a school nurse for problems associated with Type 2 diabetes," said Russell Cliche, head of the coordinated school health program for Hamilton County. "They're leaving the classroom for several minutes to get their blood sugar checked, and that's one of the big impacts you see with chronic disease - the children are taken out of the classroom to deal with their disease."

Far more than exercise classes is needed, though, to help children, he said. In some cases, kids are mimicking their inactive, poorly fed parents' behaviors, he added.

"It's a chronic disease culture," Mr. Cliche said. "We're dealing with chronic disease, which impacts performance and truancy and graduation rates, which impacts crime in the community."