If we’ve learned anything lately about the relationship between fitness and academic performance, it’s this: There is a relationship.
In a couple of recent studies by researchers at the University of Illinois, 9- and 10-year-old students were put on treadmills and then put into categories based on how fit they were. (Not my idea of fun.) Then students were given a series of cognitive challenges, or asked to perform tests that required using complex memory.
Both sets of researchers concluded that fitter kids had bigger brains — specifically, the hippocampus and basal ganglia regions. The new findings dovetail perfectly with past studies showing that aerobic exercise produces specific growth factors and proteins that stimulate the brain.
In parentalspeak, what they’re saying is that running can boost test scores. Maybe the best way to help kids learn more and perform better in school is to get them away from the Wii and playing hard in the schoolyard. (Read the full story on The New York Times.)
This morning I saw Silver, a mom at George Watts Montessori, with her son. Every morning, her pre-kindergartner does a lap around the new walking path before heading into class. “It’s intuitive,” she says, that this would help her son get his wiggles out and be ready for a day in school. Don’t you love this idea?
Natasha, a parent who happens to live across from the playground, says her sons bike or walk several laps around the path every morning before school. What started as a way for her family to have some personal space away from each other (“We’re not morning people,” she says) has become a morning fitness regimen. And her sons appear to relish their post-breakfast independence.