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Exercise and the Brain: Keep Kids Moving for Optimal Development

 With the increased use of smartphone devices and video game consoles, sedentary lifestyles are becoming more prevalent among children. A great alternative to screen time is exercise. It provides a whole host of cognitive benefits that children with childhood learning and developmental issues, such as autism, depression and ADHD, can leverage. Thus, it's key to get your children moving to enhance brain health and development. Here are some advantages of exercise to consider:

Exercise Improves Mood

When children get moving, they improve their moods by feeling happier. That's because when you exercise, natural stress-fighting brain chemicals are released. Improving moods is instrumental in improving symptoms of depression. For example, exercise can help reduce adverse aspects of depression, such as rumination and negativity.

Exercise Helps to Enhance Processing

Being able to think faster can help children with learning issues stay on pace with classwork for academic success. Studies show that exercise can help with processing information at a faster pace than not engaging in any physical exercise. This was evident in a 2014 Pediatrics study where faster processing speed was prevalent among children who exercised.

Exercise Can Help Improve Attention Span

Did you know? The brain is a network of many pathways that come together to complete a function or ability. The connections between these networks within the brain are associated with learning difficulties in kids. For a child who routinely struggles with focus and attention, we set expectations to complete a task when the child's brain may not be prepared to easily complete it. Since two of the most important stimulators for creating connections in the brain are our senses and our muscles, exercise prior to activities that require attention is vital! One 2016 Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders study shows that jogging helped to improve the attention span for children with ASD and ADHD. These findings demonstrate that exercise as simple as jogging can have positive effects for helping to improve brain health in children with mental health conditions.    

Final Thoughts

It's important to keep your children moving. With the many cognitive benefits exercise brings, children can leverage it to feel better and concentrate. By getting your children moving, you can also get their minds moving and increase their potential for improving development.
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