An Active Lifestyle for Healthy Learning
There used to be a time when it was a challenge to get our children to stay in the house, but with our increasingly digitised world – and along with it, social media and the rise of online gaming and the like – it’s now a challenge to get them to leave it. Especially with pandemic-imposed restrictions. And not to mention our children’s busy and often overloaded schedules. And at a time when recess and physical education programmes are being side-lined to make way for more classroom time and exam preparation.
The struggle, as a student, to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle becomes an even bigger challenge indeed.
However, making sure that our kids get enough exercise definitely impacts them in the best of ways, particularly in the long run. So if you’re looking for reasons to get your child on the road to be more active, look no more!
Exercise neutralises stress
The high-stress that comes with the educational milestone years like the PSLE or the O Levels can take its toll on students. Students already deal with stress from a myriad of sources: the classroom, work overload, peer pressure and now – the pandemic as well.
Fortunately, there is a good way to counter this stress: exercise. And the good news is that it is cheap and natural and convenient to boot. It can arguably be done anywhere; a walk in the park, or even around your neighbourhood. With videos and apps that focus on getting-fit-at-home being all the rage now, sometimes it isn’t even necessary to leave the house to get heart rates up and pumping.
Children who are physically active have nature on their side when it comes to battling the negative consequences of stress. They’re better able to fight against the downside of chronic stress and hopefully reverse them, and at the same time the endorphins released during physical activity help to boost immune systems as well. With Covid cases currently on the rise, this information couldn’t have come at a better time.
It doesn’t matter how much exercise you get or where you get it. What matters most is that your child gets moving, because even a little at a time goes a long way in making a difference.
Exercise improves brain function
Studies from big names like Harvard Medical School have been providing increasing evidence that aerobic exercise impacts the brain in the healthiest of ways. Dr. John J. Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the university, writes that exercise improves learning on three levels: First, it optimises mind-sets to improve alertness, attention, and motivation. Second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information. And thirdly, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus of the brain.
In a nutshell, not only does exercise help the brain get ready to learn, but it actually makes retaining information easier as well. Compelling evidence indeed.
Sports supports learning
Exercise, particularly if it is a new activity or a new sport, introduces your child to, and encourages your child to develop new skills, both mentally and physically. It engages the mind and hones physical responses, teaching children new ways to move their bodies, and in turn, open up their minds.
A bonus? It combines both mental and physical energy, which elevates the quality of life, contributing to better thinking as well as feeling. With mental-health issues on the rise in recent years, this is definitely good news.
For some, in spite of our best efforts, it can remain difficult to get children to commit to new habits, especially when a natural interest in that activity is absent. Bear in mind that different personalities gravitate towards different things, and experimentation here could be the key to opening new doors to a healthier, more active child. And just like with anything else, start small and build up from there.
As parents we often struggle in our bid to raise our children in the best way possible. Oftentimes we juggle between offering our young ones enough mental and physical stimulation; or we try and do nifty balancing acts when it comes to ensuring they have enough work time and play time. Let’s not even get started on what an uphill battle it is when it comes to their diet; whereby we strive to plan and prepare not only balanced, but healthy and nutritious food for them as well.