Scientists have known for years that there are certain foods that are good for your brain. There’s now evidence that exercise, the companion of good eating, also has benefits for your brain. In particular, if children get active it can actually increase the size of their brains.
Good nutrition in pregnancy and in early life is vital for brain development in children. The new study was carried out in Spain on a group of overweight children. It showed that as children became fitter, there was an increase in the amount of grey matter. This happened particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for language and reading. These are the keys that unlock all other learning.
Adults can’t increase their brain size, but we can make the most of what we have. Exercise has beneficial effects on blood flow to the brain and stress reduction. Both of these help us to concentrate, which is a route to ideas and problem solving.
The recommendation is that primary and secondary age children do an hour of physical activity a day. This is easy for the younger ones, who are programmed to run about and really enjoy it. Teens may need a little more encouragement.
School PE is the obvious starting point, so help your children to participate fully. If the offerings at school don’t appeal, get involved to see what else can be done. This particularly applies if there is a focus on team games, where it is essential that every child gets their turn regardless of skill.
Help your kids’ brains (and bodies) by incorporating exercise into your out of school routine as much as you can. It can be walks, runs and cycle rides. It can also be a family swim or gym trip.
Importantly, set a good example and get your exercise too!
I'm disappointed that as an adult I can't make my brain grow, but it is good to know that exercise will hopefully help it last!
As one of those kids who was never picked for the team games, that comment struck a chord. I'm now a regular gym goer and pride myself on my fitness - I just wish I'd known there was more to exercise when I was at school!