Bouts of activity through the day boost the brain.
In Canada, school kids are sitting at a desk for more hours a day than ever before. “Sitting idle for long periods of time is a biologically bad idea,” says Harvard’s Dr. Tremblay. A few of the physical perils of sitting too long include: poor leg circulation, decreased bone density, weak glut and abdominal strength,strained neck and upper back, tight hips and hip flexors, and most evident, obesity and cardiovascular disease. And if the physical manifestations aren’t enough reason to get kids moving more, how about the mental manifestations. Movement is the surest – most vital – way to spark the brain.
Any movement of your muscles – no matter how low the intensity – pumps fresh blood and oxygen up to the brain. Its like plugging in a light. Nerves travel up from our muscles to stimulate the brain, that responds by sending a fleet of impulses back through the body. The more often this energy circuit is taking place, the sharper and more alert the brain becomes. When the brain is buzzing, it directs energy to mental tasks as well. When kids are sitting all day long, there is nothing to spark a brain that is physically stimulated.
In her recent article,”Building a Better Brain” Erin Anderssen examines the correlation between physical activity and better grades. Research has found that the benefits affect kids of all fitness levels, and all and any forms of movement are good. Even greater gains have been observed in kids with ADD and those from lower-income families who are less able to provide extracurricular activities. As Anderssen writes, “Whatever gets the heart pumping will get the brain pumping as well.” Yes.
Think of focus and concentration like Cinderella’s magic carriage (pre-midnight), being pulled along by the horse. The horse is physical activity. The brain is like the carriage. It is pretty magical. But without the horse, that carriage just sits there.
Don’t let the brain sit idle all day. Take it for a strut.