For Your Child

Give Your Child an Academic Boost-Exercise!

Keeping your child active may not always be easy. Children may be more interested in video games, YouTube videos, or the latest episode of American Idol. But regular physical activity can help curb childhood obesity, an epidemic that affects more than 12 million U.S. kids. Urging your child to move more has other benefits, too. It may even improve academic performance.

Photo of boys running around cones in gym class

Exercise the body - and brain

Parents everywhere want to keep their children healthy. And one of the best tools to do so is exercise. Being active works wonders on the body. Not only does it keep your child in shape, but it can also help your child sleep better. It can give your child more energy. It can even enhance self-esteem.

Along with such body-building properties, exercise may boost brain power, too. Physical activity increases blood flow and oxygen in the brain. It also stirs up nerve cell production. What's this mean for your child? Such neurological changes may improve attention and memory - two brain processes used in learning.

All that bumped-up brain power may come in handy at school. Ongoing research has found that physical activity is positively associated with academic performance. Essentially, children who are more active - whether in a school sport, during recess, or in physical education class - tend to perform better in school. In fact, fitter kids are more likely to earn higher grades.

Fitness: A family affair

How your child feels about physical activity begins at home. By being more active yourself, you can help encourage the same healthy behavior in your child. Start by setting a family goal, such as taking a walk after dinner a few days a week. Here are some other ways to make fitness a family affair:

  • Take your child to the park to play catch or basketball.

  • Plan a Sunday bike ride together. Let your child choose the route.

  • Play a video game that gets everyone moving, like a dance or sport competition game.

  • Have the whole family pitch in with cleaning, but keep it fun. For example, romp in the leaves before cleaning them up.

  • Enlist the whole family in training for a walk or race that promotes a favorite charity or cause.

  • Encourage your child to play an organized sport that he or she shows some interest in.

Health experts recommend children get at least an hour of physical activity every day. That may sound like a lot, but it's easier to achieve than you think. Just remember to keep it fun no matter what physical activities your child chooses. Being more active will make a positive difference in your child's overall health.

Looking for more ways to encourage your child to get in shape? Check out this article. 

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

Let's Move Campaign

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute - Get Active

March 2013

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