Browsing thru the January 16, 2012 issue of the Time Magazine, an eye-catching title at the Health & Science Section grabbed my attention. It screamed “The Reason for Recess. Children who are more physically active may do better in school.”
Wow. Here is an article that a teacher-friend of mine with a healthy appetite for running would like with gusto. Running parents like me will have a use of this article to show to our kids in the hope of wrestling them away from the clasp of the computer games and showing them the joys of physical activities like biking, swimming, basketball and of course, running.
The short piece by veteran health journalist, Alice Park, talks about the growing body of studies that point to physical activity doing a lot of good to the body and brain (for more on this, visit http://archpedic.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/166/1/49). I quote:
“Researchers in the Netherlands report that children who get more exercise, whether at school or on their own, tend to have higher GPAs and better scores on standardized tests. In a review of 14 studies that looked at physical activity and academic performance, investigators found that the more children moved, the better their grades were in school, particularly in the basic studies of math, English and reading.”
Why is this so? Again, I quote from the Time article:
“Physical activity can improve blood flow to the brain, fueling memory, attention and creativity , which are essential in learning. And exercise releases hormones that can improve mood and suppress stress, which can also help in learning. So while it may seem as if kids are just exercising their bodies when they’re running around, they may actually be exercising their brains as well.”
How often should kids exercise? Miss Park utilizes the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for some answers. The CDC points that “ ..students need about one hour of physical activity every day to remain healthy; only 18% of high school students (in the USA) met this requirement in the week before a 2009 survey, and 23% had not exercised at all during the period.”
No wonder, issues about obesity and falling academic performance are a common occurrence when they talk about the US education system in the US media.
Now, back to the Philippines. The coming weeks are exams weeks for our kids as the school year wraps up by March. The Time article I will surely show to my son so that I can get him to run with me on weekends. Perhaps running will help him improve academic learning, but what I am sure about is that our running together, father and son, will help us both learn about life. This is bonding time for us and the more running we do together, the more time we would have to share stories and enjoy each other’s company.