- Cambridge-Isanti Schools
Movement and Exercise Help Kids Learn - March 2021
Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki encourages people to think about the brain like a muscle. In thinking this way, exercise supports our ability to think creatively, make decisions, focus and retrieve key information. In her research, Suzuki found a single workout can improve a student’s ability to focus on a task for up to two hours. When children run around, their brains are getting a bubble bath of good neurochemicals, neurotransmitters and endorphins. These help memory and mood. A simple burst of exercise helps students focus better, to filter out what they do and do not need to pay attention to in class. We can reframe our thinking about exercise and just call it movement. The thing is, there are so many ways to move our bodies. Exercise includes movements, body positions, or specific motor actions that aim to improve the way the brain, organs, joints, and muscles function.
For example, the movement activity of throwing a ball back and forth to most people would be considered an activity to promote sport and physical activity, but it also helps your child to learn better. Children who are spending excessive hours sitting sedentary watching TV or playing video games, typically have difficulty with focusing and paying attention in class, following simple instructions, remembering classroom content, and difficulty regulating their emotions and behavior. So with every movement that our body makes, we have more oxygen and energy moving around our body. This increased oxygen and energy to the brain helps children (and adults) in many ways: reduces our anxiety, increases our focus and attention, improves memory, improves executive function, stimulates the prefrontal cortex which controls our behavior, and improves our sleep and mood. Every movement counts! Please encourage your children to move, not only for their motor development but also for their learning and health.