Warren Willey

Warren Willey

Last week, I reviewed how daily exercise improves academic scores for school children. Gym class is likely more beneficial for our children’s brains than what we currently consider “brain training” in academics.

A study done at Oregon Health and Science University and reported in eLife recently furthers this proof by showing that short bouts of exercise help hard-wire connections and neurons in a part of your brain called the hippocampus, where learning and memory take place.

More and more research is showing that the brain/body connection is something that can no longer be ignored. Training our muscles and heart with exercise also improves cognitive function, the ability to learn, and strengthens the platform for memory retention.

Unless you can physically perform at the level of a professional athlete (and get paid like one), you need to have some brain power to be successful in whatever endeavor you, or your kids, hope to do.

Daily bouts of vigorous exercise are going to do far more for your kids’ futures than prevent disease, limit obesity and disability, etc. That is obvious and well-known.

But we must also understand how daily physical activity will improve their brain function and ensure they have the mental tools for academics and learning/retention and for future financial success.

The brain/body connection is something we parents need to emphasize to our kids from an early age. It is quite possible that the physical activity you and your kids do now (and daily) will ensure their future success more than any other activity you can do together.

Your brain and your kids’ brains literally grow when you are moving your body in purposeful exercise and activity. This same growth occurs in your relationships when you are training your brain/body with physical activity together.

I am convinced that one of the more powerful things a parent can do for their kids in ensuring a great future for them is to exercise with them.

Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at http://drwilley.com.