1 – Exercise helps children pay attention
You don’t even need me to explain this one. When your son is bouncing off the walls and full of energy, you can’t get him to pay attention to anything. Send him outside to run around a bit first, though, and you’ll find that it’s much easier to capture his focus. It happens to all of us. Human beings don’t do well sitting still at a desk eight ours a day – but, unfortunately, modern civilization demands it of us.
Exercise takes on even more important if your child suffers from ADHD, however, because he’s already starting from a rough spot.
2 – Exercise helps with memory
Regular exercise helps actually changes your brain and helps you remember things better. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Harvard Medical School has to say on the subject:
Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
But the key is regular exercise – so how much do you actually need? Harvard goes on to recommend 120 minutes – two hours – of exercise per week.
3 – Exercise Makes Your Child’s Brain Bigger
Literally. Aerobic activity stimulates the release of natural chemicals in the body that help your child’s brain grow. It also helps stimulate neural activity, creating new pathways between neurons in his brain and stimulating development of existing pathways. In short, your brain just functions better when you’re getting more exercise.
4 – Exercise Improves Sleep
Do you struggle with your child at bedtime? What about on the days when he’s worn out from exercise and play? Bedtime isn’t such a chore then, is it? And we all know the critical role sleep plays for everything else in our lives – but especially those parts that involve our brains. How is your child supposed to do his homework, pay attention to the lecture, or pass his test when he hasn’t slept well in days?
5 – Exercise Improves Your Child’s Mood
Exercise triggers the release of endorphins – your body’s natural hormones that make you feel good. You know it yourself. When you’re exercising, you just feel better. But did you know that two hours of exercise a week can actually be more effective than antidepressant medication for some kinds of depression? It even helps reduce anxiety, which can help your child get through the day with less struggle.
6 – Exercise Reduces Inflammation
Does your child suffer from allergies, asthma, sinusitis, joint pain, or chronic fatigue? All of these are signs of systemic inflammation throughout the whole body. Exercise probably won’t cure these things, but it’s almost certain to improve your child’s symptoms. I have a good friend who suffers from asthma – but thanks to regular exercise, he’s a strong distance runner who rarely suffers any attacks anymore.
7 – Exercise Reduces Stress
What we call “stress” in the modern world is almost always actually a result of adrenaline. Imagine your boss, teacher, or another student yelling in your face. Your body’s caveman instincts want to either fight the threat or run from it, and your body responds by giving you a boost of adrenaline. It’s good that in the modern world we’ve evolved into a situation that doesn’t tolerating fighting our way out of this! But the down side is that the adrenaline never gets used up and has nowhere to go. Exercise burns through that leftover adrenaline, cleansing it out of your system and eliminating the “stress” that you feel as a result. Your child won’t know why he’s calmer, but now you will!
3 Reasons Your Child Won’t Get the Exercise He Needs
Unfortunately, modern society is changing. Every year it gets harder to ensure that your child gets enough exercise. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
1 – Your Local School Has Eliminated Recess and PE
Under pressure to meet various academic standards, schools across the nation are reducing physical education and recess time. Some schools have eliminated it altogether. And when they do have it, the new safety-obsessed rules tell them they can’t play the active games like Tag that you and I played as children. Ironically, these schools would probably have an easier time getting their children’s test scores up if they increased the PE and recess time, but that’s a harder sell.
2 – Too Many Screens
My generation was the first video game generation. But what we grew up with was nothing like kids have today. They bounce around from one screen to the next, jumping from the iPad to the TV to the computer and back again, always sitting – sometimes in the same seat! Don’t get me wrong. I’m a giant nerd who loves video games as much as anybody. But good things aren’t so good when they’re overdone. You try to limit this at home, but with all the social pressure and all the situations your child ends up in that you can’t control, there’s only so much you can do.
3 – Your Child Hates Team Sports
Then when you finally do manage to get your child up off the couch and out playing sports, it turns out that he’s not very good at it. Maybe he’s been sitting on the couch too much. Maybe sports aren’t what he excels at. Or maybe he’s just never had much instruction in that sport. Unfortunately, children are brutal. They don’t care why he’s not good, but they’re sure to let him know. So his foray into sports ends in disaster when he comes home to tell you what a horrible experience it is.
You Can Get Your Child Active, Even If He Hates Sports
There’s good news, though. You can get your child more active – and you can even get him to enjoy it – even if he hates sports! Click below for our free guide to making your child want to be more active!
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