The Blog

General Health and Wellness | May 20, 2015

Fitness For The Brain!

When we exercise, we usually do it with the intention of losing weight, improving cardiovascular health, or building muscle, but many recent studies suggest that physical activity improves cognitive function as well. In experimental studies, rats that performed cardiovascular exercise had improved learning and memory function as opposed to their sedentary counterparts. Not only that, structural brain differences were also detected, such as increased neural complexity.

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A recent study that tracked youth ages 15 to 18 years found a significant positive association between cardiovascular fitness and cognitive abilities. In other words, the amount of vigorous cardio activity we do at a young age can predict educational achievements later in life! You have probably heard that exercise is important in helping prevent mental degeneration in older adults, but it is just as important in helping our youth reach their full potential. In addition, statistics show that kids who exercise regularly are more likely to do so as adults.

So what can we do? Encourage our kids to get off the couch and play outside- let them run, let them swim. Our kids are much more likely to participate in physical activity when they actually enjoy doing it. It can be a trial-and-error process to find something they love doing, but it’s well worth it! If they find running boring, maybe they would enjoy soccer. If they feel uncomfortable in competitive sports, maybe they would enjoy rock climbing, or dance! When we expose our young ones to a wide variety of activities, they are likely to find something they connect with. So let’s get active and help our kids develop healthy hobbies they will stick with for life!

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Summer camp could be the perfect way for kids to test out a variety of physical activities without making a long-term commitment. The YMCA offers active summer camps all over Texas, as do many local Parks & Recreation departments!

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