Consensus for exercise's positive effect on kids' brain health
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Experts agree: Exercise boosts kids’ brains

A statement on physical activity in school and during leisure time concludes that exercise is critical for healthy brain development and academic success.

In April this year, researchers from eight different countries and a variety of academic backgrounds gathered in Denmark to reach an evidence-based consensus on the benefits of physical activity for children and young people between the ages of six and 18.

24 signatories signed the resulting statement, which is published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and distils available evidence on the impact of phsyical activity on children.

The panel of international experts who collaborated on the document prepared 21 separate statements on the four themes of: fitness and health; intellectual performance; engagement, motivation and wellbeing; and social inclusion. The document covers structured and unstructured forms of physical activity for six to 18 year olds.

Key points made:

  • Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children’s and young people’s brain development and function as well as their intellect
  • Time taken away from lessons in favour of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades
  • A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess
  • Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance
  • A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance

The statement identifies that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness are string indicators of heart health and the risk of developing diabetes in the later life, and that improving exercise routines helps moderate these risk factors. Frequent exercise of any helps improve heart health and metabolism.

More importantly, the paper concludes that the benefits of good exercise routines are far reaching, as it helps to develop important life skills while also boosting self esteem, motivation, confidence and general wellbeing. The paper acknowledges social benefits as well.

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