Exercise best for raising children’s intelligence

Brain games are all the rage these days.  You have video games such as “Brain Age” for the Nintendo DS gaming system, similar games for other consoles.  There are even “brain gyms” popping up everywhere, with the intention of raising intelligence through mental exercises.

Surprise:  If new research is to be believed, aerobic exercise actually does more to increase children’s intelligence than brain games and even supposed “brain foods” like fish.

The latest study was conducted by Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist.  Dr. Ratey determined that higher physical activity levels tend to trigger a release of what Ratey calls “metabolic clean-up crews.”  The result:  brain clogging waste, which causes sluggish thinking, is zapped away by proteins and enzymes.

Always interested in child development issues, the inspiration for Ratey’s research came as he noticed that PE teachers in a Chicago school had been aggressively promoting physical fitness, and interestingly, these same students achieved higher academic performance as well.  In this particular school, the central focus for students was exercise, which took place throughout the day.  Academic courses were slotted between these exercise periods.

Dr. Ratey began researching the subject, and his studies consistently show a link between higher children’s intelligence and higher activity levels.

Want to get your own kids moving for the sake of their minds?  Here are some recommendations:

1.  Encourage your children to spend time playing outside instead of staying on the Computer or video games all the time.

2.  If your kids insist on playing video games excessively, get them a Nintendo Wii, and consider investing in exercise “games” such as Wii Fit.

3.  Make your kids bicycle or walk to school.

4.  Plan regular family outings in which you as a group bicycle, walk to the park, play tag, etc.

5.  Encourage your child to get a paper route.  This will motivate him or her to learn about financial responsibility at the same time that it’s getting them active.  And they’ll be excited to have their own money coming in.

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