Last month, I posted an article on the Philosophie blog about creative ways to entertain your children that don’t involve screen time. I grew up playing in ways that promoted the development of my body as well as my imagination whether that meant active play outdoors or creative play inside. I cannot envision what my childhood would have been like had I not been encouraged to connect with both the world around me and my own body and spirit.
I have always been particularly grateful for the fact that I established a positive affiliation with being physically active at a young age and the ways that those habits have helped me become a healthy and vibrant adult with the energy to tackle many roles including wife, mother, and Chief Operating Goddess of The Philosophie. What I was not aware of was the wonderful ways that being active as a child impacted my brain!
Just this past week, Well, the health and wellness blog by The New York Times, posted an article about the effects of exercise on young brains. The article refers to a study that was released in the September issue of Pediatrics, a monthly journal published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The goal of the study was to assess the effects of physical activity on the brain development of preadolescent children and the results were incredible. The study found that preadolescent children who engaged in regular bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity over the course of a year showed substantially greater improvements in their cognitive functioning than children who did not. The specific skills that were tested for improvement included the children’s abilities to multi-task, maintain concentration, and block out unnecessary and distracting stimuli. These skills can be grouped together under the term “executive functioning” and have been correlated with better academic performance.
While I am not really shocked with the results of this study, I was surprised by the robustness of the study’s results. Not only did the children who participated in the exercise sessions show increases in their executive functioning skills, the children who participated the most regularly showed the greatest improvements!
I believe that this information is especially important for parents who are focused on creating the most opportunity for their children. Encouraging your children to be physically active for their health is a no-brainer, but their developing brains might benefit from exercise just as much as their bodies do!
It’s also important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to mean grueling sweat sessions. Children are full of energy and it can be easy to help them channel that energy into physical activity that is playful and fun! Go swimming, play ball, dance, hop on the yoga mat, or simply start a game of chase. There are so many free or inexpensive activities that you can encourage your kids to do (and that you can join in on, as well) that will help them be the very healthiest version of themselves from the inside of their heads to the tips of their toes!
What are your kids' favorite ways to be active? Share your thoughts in the comments below or share pics of your kids developing their bodies and minds on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and be sure to tag #myphilosophie!