We all know that the stereotype of the dumb jock comes from the notion that the jock spends too much time on athletics and not enough time on academics. That means, then, that people who focus all of their time on academics should be the most successful, right? Not necessarily. As most people know, physical activity generally stimulates the mind and body, and ultimately contributes to a higher level of mental alertness.
According to a recent obvious study by the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, children who participated in daily, vigorous activity achieved a greater ability to process academic material than children who did not participate in any activity at all. While not exactly earth shattering, it is still interesting.
The researchers also performed brain scans and found that the children who were exercising appeared to have more neural activity in the frontal areas of their brains, an important area for executive function, Davis says. “The animal literature tells us that exercise, particularly regular exercise, stimulates the growth of blood vessels and neurons in the brain, so we think the same may be happening in the children.”
Other studies have shown that executive function improves in older adults who become more physically active, she says. “School systems need to know that to reach their achievement targets, they need to add physical activity to the school day rather than reduce it.”
While kids spend much of their free time these days in front of computers or video games, it does bode well that Nintendo is releasing Wii Fit, which will hopefully foster more activity among children. While video games aren’t ideal, they are still better than nothing.
Whatever the age, exercise clearly does not just the body, but also the brain, good.