Check out the size of that kids hippocampus

17 Sep

If we’ve learned anything lately about the relationship between fitness and academic performance, it’s this: There is a relationship.

Silver with her pre-kindergarten son

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 thatĀ 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.

4 Responses to “Check out the size of that kids hippocampus”

  1. Jen Minnelli September 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Love this!!! Thank you for posting on this important connection. By giving your child this kind of input every day, you are giving them lifelong benefit in so many areas, as well as building a positive association with exercise. I heart your walking trail over at GW.

  2. Emily Geizer September 18, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Oh, I love this! Similarly, my daughter often bikes the 1.5 miles to school, which certainly wakes up her mind and body and gets her in an optimal learning state.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. tish jett September 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    My dearest Alice,

    What you have created here is absolutely brilliant. That doesn’t surprise me, but I didn’t know you liked to get down and dirty.

    We have a small potager and it thrills me.


  4. Cynthia September 20, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    Probably works for adults too: When I used to bike to work, I felt much calmer, more productive, and not in dire need for coffee!

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