Two hours of physical exercise per week could make your child smarter

A new study has revealed that just two hours of extra physical activity each week can improve school performance. Approximately 2,000 twelve-year-olds were part of the study was done by scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy. The scientists Lina Bunketorp Kall, Michael Nilsson and Thomas Linden, at the Centre for Brain Repair and Rehabilitation at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have tested the hypothesis.

According to the study 408 twelve-year-olds in the Gothenburg region were given two hours of extra play and motion activities per week. This was approximately twice the normal amount of curricular physical activity. Scientists suggested that a larger proportion on students in the intervention school did achieve the national learning goals in all subjects examined - Swedish, English and mathematics compared to the control groups. (Read: Can astrology make you a better parent?)

The schools that were going to participate were carefully chosen, and the scientists pointed out that they were fully comparable with respect to the number of boys and girls, the fraction of pupils with foreign background, and the average level of income, unemployment and education of the parents. Results were so consistent and pointed clearly in one direction that strengthens the belief that extra physical activity seems to help children succeed in school. The study was published in the scientific periodical Journal of School Health. (Read: Are you spending enough time with your kids?)

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Helps develop the mind: According to Dr John Rately, co-author of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, an active child s brain develops much better than one who is not. He found that active kids have better cognition, focus on tasks more easily, have a faster reaction time and therefore perform better at school. Playing a sport also helps the child be more social, make friendships, and sleep well; all of which are essential factors in mental development. So the next time you stop your child from going out to play and study instead, remember that a quick game of cricket, football, a run, or even a walk is what can help him/her excel at school.

Helps the brain develop: A 2010 study conducted at the University of Illinois psychology department found that regular physical exercise can influence both the brain structure and function in a child. Dr John Rately found that when a child is active or plays a sport, the brain produces a protein called BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor). This protein helps build nerve connections. The stronger these connections (which happens with continued physical activity) the easier it is for a child to learn and retain information.

Tones and builds stronger muscles and bones: While we all know that exercise helps build muscles, this activity is especially important for children. When a child plays sports his body becomes stronger, the muscles become more toned, bones are stronger and more resilient to stresses and strains of daily life. Sports also help a growing child s body become more flexible and therefore beats common ailments like joint pain later in life. Doctors say that a child who plays any sport or is physically active has joints that are far more flexible and therefore less likely to degrade later in life a common reason for bone and joint disorders.

With inputs from ANI

Photo source: Getty

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