It appears that girls who get a ride to school each morning don’t perform as well on tests as their classmates who walk to school. The benefits of exercise are numerous and we already know that it has the ability to improve brain-function and memory. Increased blood-flow to the brain and the extra time to reflect clearly offers an advantage to girls who walk to school, regardless of how much exercise they get during the rest of their day. What’s not so clear is that the same cannot be said for boys. There’s no noticeable difference among boys who walk to school versus those who drive. We’re obviously working with some unseen factors that need to be explored more in-depth.
It’s possible that boys are more active throughout their daily routines so an extra fifteen minutes in the morning doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s also possible that differences among brain structure and hormone development influence the immediate effects of exercise. Regardless of the fuzzy details, it can be agreed that all children benefit from an active lifestyle. Only half of US children partake in one hour of moderate exercise each day. What’s worse is that even fewer teens achieve the recommended amount of daily exercise.
It seems that the older we get, the more we view exercise as obsolete. Until, of course, we hit an overweight and unhealthy wall. It’s in that moment of desperation that we finally seek an active lifestyle. Instead of letting our children reach the same wall, perhaps we should enlighten them from the beginning. Assuming the commute is safe, a brisk walk to school each morning is a great place to start. By encouraging this, you could be setting them up for a healthful life and higher test scores. It’s a win-win!
January 3rd, 2011