Kids who sweat get smarter

By Shayna Brouker • Published: March 19th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You’ve tried everything to encourage your kid to get smarter in school: extra time with the teacher, after-school tutoring and maybe even bribery. But reading, writing and arithmetic might come a little easier with something as simple as breaking a sweat.

A review of 14 studies published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that kids who exercise tend to do better in school. The research found that a little physical education could translate to better-educated kids in the classroom. Aerobic activity boosts brain function by enhancing blood and oxygen flow to the brain and releasing endorphins, those feel-good hormones activated by exercise.

Regular play could even cut down on classroom antics, too, making for improved concentration and better grades. But since as many as 40 percent of schools are cutting back on recess under the pressure to raise test scores, parents might have to take playtime into their own hands.

Start by limiting T-V time and get kids up and out the door. Set the example by leading a fun, active lifestyle. Gently encourage exercise and get kids involved, but don’t force it. Think beyond structured sports. Playing in the leaves, kickball, tag, hiking in the woods or jumping rope all count as aerobic activity.

Another obvious option is team sports. Past research has found that middle-school students who played team sports were happier, healthier and overall more satisfied with their lives. Some might even enjoy supervised strength training, which develops bones, balance and coordination.

However kids choose to move, they’ll also learn how to build relationships, navigate social scenarios, solve problems and most important, gain confidence. They might just learn a thing or two inside the classroom, too.