Saturday, September 7, 2013

BRAIN GAINS - Kids need exercise more than ever!

Now that summer is winding down and kids are back in school, reality sets in.   Did you know that close to 50% of school children are overweight?   It’s surprising that current guidelines recommend that children engage in at least 1 hour of physical activity daily yet only 6% to 8% of primary and secondary school kids reach that mark.

Did you know that;
- Fewer than one in four students gets at least 30 minutes of daily exercise?
- School-age kids and teens spend an average of 6 hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games and 7 hours each weekend day?
- It is estimated that by 2015 75% of Canada’s population will be overweight or obese!
- They are now saying that our children will not live as long as we will.
- 80% of money spent on disease could be prevented by exercise and diet alone.

Yikes!  I’d like to share with you an interesting article that the CBC news (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) put out about a High School in Saskatoon that put treadmills and exercise bikes into a math classroom.  Students did 20 minutes of cardio before class.

An interesting point is that this school is for those with learning difficulties, with over half the students having ADHD. They couldn't sit still, many had behavioral problems, and couldn't learn. With the cardio equipment in the classroom, most of the kids had jumped a full grade in reading, writing and math in one semester.  Plus their attention span increased from 10 minutes to 3 hours!

The exercise altered their brain chemistry enough to make learning possible, AND it greatly improved their behavior.  Exercise is food for the brain,” says Dr. John Ratey of Harvard University. Studies show that exercise builds new brain cells in the part of the brain that helps with memory and learning, he added.

If you want to hear more about the CBC report on exercise and the Saskatoon school’s pilot project click here=> Brain gains.

As a teenager, many students are overworked at school and overstressed at home.  They engross their spare time on facebook, television and video games and can never put down their iphone or android.  Encouraging exercise helps to overcome the stress of growing up and adds energy, confidence and makes you look and feel good.

Exercise is just one part of maintaining a healthy body weight and a fit mind.  Nutrition plays an important part.  Did you know that certain foods help your grey matter?  Eating fish helps prevent stroke.  Eating steak helps to reduce brain shrinkage.  Blueberries helps shield your brain from stress.  And kids of all ages should stay away from diet soda – the aspartame is linked to headaches – which may increase migraines and have no nutritional value.

The best health results come from a long-term strategy involving a permanent change in both eating and activity habits.  It is important to make physical activity a priority for both you and your children.  The more active the exercise the better.   The human body was meant to move and physical activity should be part of your life.

Strive for an overall plan to increase your health, fitness, well-being and quality of life.  Creating an exercise habit starts with you!