It’s the first day back from Winter Break and I am dragging. Late nights and late morning are part of the regular diet of relaxation in my house over the holidays, but there is a bigger reason why at 2:15 today I drank cup of coffee #3: lack of physical activity. Without it, I am simply not myself.
I wasn't the only one in need of get up and go. Due to the weather turning bitterly cold, the MS was unable to get outside today, and like many 6th graders, I don’t take the absence of recess lightly. And it isn’t all about fun. More and more research shows movement matters not just to a student’s physical and emotional well-being, but to their academic health too. Just today I read an article in Education Week citing new evidence linking physical activity and academic success. In a nut shell, the study found “a significant relationship between physical activity and academic performance.” Why? Increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain boosts production of norepinephrine and endorphins which help improve mood. Even more interesting was the finding that exercise, specifically in school sports, “increased growth factors that help create new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity.” That plasticity is no small thing. Just like your biceps and hamstrings, keeping your brain fit and flexible opens the way for improved learning and performance.
What’s exciting about this finding? Schools will now be able to think intentionally about PE and recess periods to tailor their programs to benefit each student's body – and mind.