Did you know that children’s weight and physical activity levels can affect their thinking and learning skills?
Researchers gathered 45 children aged 7 to 11 with normal weight. 24 children were physically active while 21 of them were not. Those children who are active are part of sports like gymnastics, swimming, soccer, or dance, which they do for more than an hour in 1 week.
The study also gathered children who are overweight and inactive.
As it normally is, kids with normal weight and who are active had less body fat, and a lower resting heart rate compared to inactive and overweight children.
However, the researchers also observed that children with normal weight and who are physically active did better on mental skill test in comparison to those who are inactive. The test includes planning and paying attention.
On the other hand, as the study found an association between physical activities and mental skills in children, it did not find a cause-and-effect relationship.
According Medical College of Georgia health psychologist Catherine Davis, “Activity made a difference even among normal-weight kids. That verifies that physical activity makes a difference in brain function. If they can cut some of the empty calories out of their diet and pick up the pace on physical activity, they may grow into their weight.”
Catherine Davis also stated that the study focused on weight, but would probably be more accurate to look at the amount of body fat in children. In the study, overweight kids had more fat that weighing more because of extra muscle mass.
Others suggest that future studies should also include children who are overweight but physically active, just to see if their mental skills also benefit from physical activity, also to learn more about how kids’ brain health are affected by their weight and exercise activities.
The Exercise-Effect on Academics
Sports and physical activity are generally linked with positive effects on children’s physical health. It is believed that a regular participation in physical activity is associated to enhancement of brain function and cognition, which positively affects academic performance.
Yes, exercise is good for cognition and here are some reasons why:
- Increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain
- Extended levels of norepinephrine and endorphins reduce stress and improves mood
- Increased growth factors can help make new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity
Those are just some of the reasons why exercise benefits children’s academic skills. The rising pressures to improve academic scores which often lead to instructional time for subjects, including mathematics and language, at the cost of time for being physically active.
Exercise is one of the biggest factors children need, but unfortunately, most kids are not exercised enough. If you still do not consider exercising important for your child, here are some reasons why you should:
- Physical activities reduce the risk of diabetes and pre-diabetes
- Being physically active improves immune system function
- Physical activities improve children’s sleep and mood
- Sports help children’s bones become stronger
- Sports can decrease restlessness or hyperactivity
- Being physically active reduces ADHD symptoms
- Physical activities balance weight
As stated by University of Chicago Psychology Professor Sian Beilock, “We show that non-language related activities, such as playing or watching a sport, enhance one’s ability to understand language about their sport precisely because brain areas normally used to act become highly involved in language understanding. Sports Experience Enhances the Neural Processing of Action Language.”
“Experience playing and watching sports has enduring effects on language understanding by changing the neural networks that support comprehension to incorporate areas active in performing sports skills,” Professor Beilock added.
In conclusion, regular physical activities or sports are essential for children’s needs. Not just to improve their body appearance, but also to improve their mental skills and critical thinking.
Gymnastics also does a great job for helping your kids boost their physical activities, so if you’re looking for a school that can give your child the best training experience, you could try and check Bianka Panova Sport and Art Academy. With our state-of-the-art training facility, fun and exciting training sessions, and extensive knowledge and experience of our head coach — Bianka Panova, we can ensure that your child will receive the highest quality of training and education. Enroll now and learn gymnastics for kids with us! 🙂