The link between exercise and more brainpower
Neuroscientists say parents who want to boost their children’s mental performance should encourage kids to hit the road before they hit the books
It is first period at City Park Collegiate Institute in Saskatoon, and the Grade 10 students in Allison Cameron’s class are priming their brains for an English assignment.
They strap heart monitors on their wrists and climb on a treadmill or exercise bike for a 20-minute workout. When they’re done, they move to their desks and start writing. The students are taking part in a program that aims to help them improve their focus, concentration and, ultimately, their academic performance through regular exercise in class.
The results have been startling: On standardized tests, the children in Movement Matters have dramatically outscored students in classes in which the program wasn’t offered.
Today, Movement Matters is in its third year and most classes at the school take part. Companies have donated equipment, as has cyclist Greg LeMond, who offered Ms. Cameron six top-of-the-line spinning bikes. A number of schools across the country are interested in setting up something similar.
Fifteen-year-old Benji, whose guardian doesn’t want his last name published, goes twice a day to the room with the exercise equipment. He alternates between the bike and treadmill, and usually gets his heart rate up to 140 beats a minute.
“When I first started, I was real tired,” he says. “When I got used to it, it woke me up more. I kind of got better at doing math and reading.”
Photo via BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool