The Benefits of Exercise on the Brain

We all know exercise is important. But winter is a less active time of year for most of us. And with a pandemic making exercise even more difficult, many kids and families are a lot less active than usual. Chronic inactivity can lead to mental sluggishness, irritability, behavioral problems, and, of course, a higher risk of excess weight and obesity. Not only is exercise important to the body’s ability to function optimally, it also does wonders for the brain. Brain benefits include improving memory, cognition, mental processing, and emotional management, to name a few. Below are some of the reasons to squeeze more activity into your kids’ days.

How Exercise Helps Kids’ Brains

  • Focus, attention, & memory. Following any bout of aerobic activity, the brain becomes much more capable of retaining information, both short-term and long-term. After exercise we are also able to sustain focus and attention for longer.

  • Emotional regulation. Exercise provides an outlet for us to regulate and cope with our emotions. It naturally releases endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals that our bodies produce. That’s why we often feel better after a brisk walk or jog.

  • Motivation. Exercise lets out pent-up energy while releasing those endorphins and also improving focus. This is the perfect formula for student motivation. They’re focused, calm, and benefiting from those “feel good” chemicals.

Creative Ideas for Safe & Socially Distant Exercise

If your children are learning remotely, no longer receive recess and PE due to COVID, and/or just need a little more activity throughout the day, here are some outside-the-box ways to incorporate more movement into their day without significantly disrupting their routine.

  • Yoga. The benefits of yoga are innumerable. It’s calming, great exercise, and good for the joints; it builds strengths, and it’s great aerobic exercise. Some children don’t have the patience for it, however. There are some very engaging apps and videos that are specifically targeted for children.

  • Hold an impromptu dance party. What kid doesn’t love a dance party? While the most fun dance parties are with the whole family, if they’re not into that idea, there are hundreds of great dance video tutorials on Youtube and elsewhere in a range of levels and styles. Just preview the video first to ensure it’s age appropriate.

  • Exercises in a jar. This is a great way to build super-short exercise breaks in throughout the day. Write a bunch of different exercises on slips of paper, fold them up, and put them in a jar. Set a timer for every 30 or so minutes. When the timer goes off, grab a slip of paper and do whatever it says (20 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, downward dog for 30 seconds, etc.)

  • Workout videos. For more video-led workouts, this list has some great resources for the whole family to get moving more. GoNoodle is another popular site for movement songs and videos.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get updates to new articles, promotions and more!