Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exercise Affects Academic Performance


A few years ago, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published a study which stated that the "prevalence of overweight in the US population is among the highest in Mexican-American children and adolescents." Poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, and low socioeconomic status were a few of the reasons listed for this statistic. I want to point out that the study said it was highest in Mexican-American children, and I would dare say that many children of other Latino (and non-Latino) heritage are affected as well.

Obesity is something that can affect all areas of a person's life. And I think that students, especially, can suffer negatively from this condition. Being overweight itself doesn't necessarily affect the academic performance of a child, so much as do the factors that contribute to being overweight. Diet for one, can have a profound impact on a child's ability to focus and successfully learn complex skills like reading and math. It is amazing the amount of energy your brain burns while learning to read!

I've talked before about diet over on Mi Cielito Lindo, and so today I'd like to stress the importance of physical exercise. Staying active is SO CRUCIAL for developing bodies - especially brains! Exercise helps to increase blood flow to your body, flushes toxins from your blood stream, and produces endorphins, which can help a person to feel more peaceful and happy. It also helps you sleep better (and kids need lots of SLEEP!!) See this article at KidsHealth.org (also available in Spanish). And according to WebMD, "Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity."

Okay. So we know our kids need to be active. The question is: How do we accomplish this? Homeschool families, especially, may find this a difficult challenge. So here are some ways to get your kids moving:



Sports

Many community centers, schools, and YMCA's offer sports programs throughout the year. I have my kids enrolled in a swim class at our local YMCA. Unfortunately, it is only once a week, but that's the best I can afford until my son "graduates" from nursery school this summer. I'm looking forward to signing them up for swim team next fall.

Also, many public schools allow homeschool students to participate in their afterschool sports programs. Check with a school near you.



Parks

Local parks can be a blessing. Ours is. And I'll let you in on a little secret: The more kids at the park, the greater the activity level. You don't have to force your kids to play with a bunch of strangers. If your child is shy, or you are worried about bullies, invite another homeschool family to go with you. It is a wonderful opportunity for the parents to exchange homeschooling tips while the kids socialize and exercise at the same time.



Photo by kretyen
 Dance

Sign your kids up for a dance class. Not only will they get some good exercise, but they'll also have a chance to work on their grace and poise! There are a lot of options here, too: ballet, jazz/tap, flamenco, ballet folklorico, ballroom, etc. 


Invest

If you have a nice backyard (or frontyard, for that matter) kick those kids outside! All you really need to do is invest in some good equipment: soccer balls, frisbees, basketballs, footballs, swings, chalk (for hopscotch), jumping ropes, bocce ball, etc.


Play Games

In addition to those mentioned above, other good activities include water balloons, car washing, window washing (kids love this for some reason!), gardening, and fairy house building.

Here are a few more links to fun outdoor activities:

10 Fun Outdoor Games for Kids

Outdoor Activities for Children Ages 6-10 (This is a MEGA-list of fun activities!)

Outdoor Games And Activities

Outdoor Activities from Kaboose


Con mucho cariño...

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