Exercise for Academic Achievement

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity can help boost brainpower in young children and adolescents.

“When adults have been in a long meeting or concentrating on one task for a period of time, it is helpful to get up and stretch to energize the body and focus the mind,” says Tricia Nguyen, M.D., M.B.A., Texas Health Resources executive vice president for population health and president of the Texas Health Population Health, Education & Innovation Center. “The same holds true for children and teenagers. Regular exercise throughout the day can help their brains stay engaged.”

Specifically, physical activity may help improve the flow of oxygen to the brain and increase the development of proteins that are critical for memory and learning. As a result, kids who stay physically active may demonstrate:

  • better attendance
  • higher grades and test scores
  • improved concentration

Plus, regular exercise may help inspire creativity, relieve stress and strengthen self-esteem in both children and adults, greatly improving quality of life for everyone.

How Much Do Kids Need?

According to KidsHealth.org, school-age children should get at least one hour of exercise every day to keep their bodies and brains healthy. But the exercise doesn’t need to happen all at once. Fifteen-minute sessions of movement on the playground can be just as effective as one-hour after-school workouts at the gym. And five-minute stretches while studying or doing homework can help rejuvenate the mind.

Make Exercise a Family Affair

While physical education classes, recess and after-school sports offer great opportunities to keep kids moving when they’re at school, family activities such as taking walks after dinner, throwing the baseball in the yard, and jumping rope or playing hopscotch are fun ways to make memories while also establishing a family culture of fitness.

“Healthy habits start at home, so it’s important to find activities that keep everyone engaged with exercise,” Dr. Nguyen says. “You don’t have to establish some elaborate fitness routine. Just start with simple things such as taking bike rides or hiking together. Focus on making exercise a way of life in every setting.”

Wondering where your family’s health and well-being stands? Visit TexasHealth.org/Well-Being for tips on achieving and maintaining whole body health.

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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