Most of us know exercise benefits children and teens physically, but it also can aid brain development and mental health.
Keep your children active and healthy with intense regular exercise such as rowing or running. You’ll be happy to know that their hard work benefits them both mentally and physically, as we detail below.
The American Psychological Association reports that children show a longer attention span when they engage in regular physical activity, according to a study that reviewed child behavior from ages 6-12.
The study also revealed that children who exercise regularly over months and years enjoy better academic performance.
Regular physical activity has a significant impact on the mental health of those from 6-18, according to a comprehensive review of 115 clinical studies.
Youth who exercise often have a lower rate of depression, psychological distress. They also have a better self-image and mental well-being. Research also suggests that children may enjoy better mental health over their lives if they exercise.
Several mental and emotional benefits are linked to intense, regular exercise. One of them is inhibitory control; this is stopping an unhealthy or unproductive urge, such as eating unhealthy snacks.
Another is selective attention, which means the ability of a person to focus.
Intense exercise sessions require a lot of focus and discipline, so it’s not surprising that engaging in these workouts can boost a child’s ability to concentrate on a task.
For instance, in team rowing, teens must focus intensely on proper body mechanics for long periods. Also, they need to ensure that their rowing stroke is done in perfect time with other rowers. This requires concentration and focus that can be transferred to other activities in life.
The APA also reports that intense exercise and high levels of physical fitness are connected to enhanced thinking abilities. For example, a study of children from 7-12 determined that regular exercise improves executive function; these are the skills that are essential for problem-solving, learning, and self-control.
In children under five, evidence suggested that exercise also may improve cognitive development later in childhood. Enhanced cognitive development in childhood may lead to better academic performance, which can benefit them all their lives.
Researchers believe that regular aerobic exercise can change behavior and mood in children and adults.
Exercise seems to alter how the brain utilizes its resources, from parts that focus on worrying and to places that involve focus, coordination, and concentration.
Also, exercise may alter the brain’s chemistry, including neurotransmitter amounts that can boost one’s self-regulation. If a child’s self-regulation and mood are improved, this means they can do better on tests and other academic work.
Researchers also have shown that physical activity can reduce depression episodes in older children and teens. Boosting exercise also can help children reduces depression episodes.
They say that increasing activity can complement psychological and medication treatment of depression and anxiety. Exercise also increases the release of endorphins and other ‘feel-good chemicals’ in the brain to reduce depression.
In this study, researchers stated that it’s well-known that exercise helps adults overcome depression, and strength training can reduce anxiety. In addition, moving the body, getting away from the house, and being in the sun can dramatically alter the mood, and it seems logical that these benefits also translate to children and teens.
After encouraging your children to get plenty of exercise for so long, it’s good to know that those workouts benefit them mentally as well as physically.