A review of 14 studies by a Dutch team of researchers confirms: kids who get more exercise get better grades and test scores on a wide array of measures of cognitive performance: general thinking and memory, but also specifically on math and language. The reason why isn’t clear, but might be because physical activity stimulates greater blood flow to the brain, may help them concentrate better. For more on this, see the synopsis in the Monitor on Psychology.
Another study cites the emotional benefits of physical activity – college kids who are more active reported higher levels of enthusiasm and excitement than the couch potatoes.
Implications: We tend to focus on the weight – regulation benefits of physical activity, but these analyses provide other meaningful benefits to cite for products that foster physical activity. The key is to tie these benefits to activity. Impacts on mood and mental sharpness might be faster to experience than weight loss, and if they are called out, associated with the physical activity, they might offset negatives (tired, sweaty, achy) that could sabotage any efforts to be more active. In our own lives – if we are mindful of these benefits, and attribute them to the exercise, it can help support our efforts to stay active and to cultivate an active lifestyle for our families.