How Exercise Boosts Brain Function

Is your child having difficulty in school? Are you looking for ways you can help your child increase his or her academic performance? There just so happens to be a fun, safe, and rewarding way to effectively improve your child’s memory, concentration, and emotional resiliency. What could this miracle cure be? Exercise! Let’s explore the science behind how exercise boosts brain function:

Exercise and Mood

Exercise has a side effect of balancing the neurotransmitters in our brains. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine relay signals between nerve cells that are used to tell your heart to beat, your stomach to digest, and your lungs to breathe. They also affect mood, weight, sleep, and concentration. Children with depleted levels of neurotransmitters will have a hard time staying focused during class and be more prone to mood swings and bad behaviour. Yet the simple act of running around in the playground, playing soccer, or doing yoga will not only beat the blues, but give your child an injection of focus and mental energy. Exercise increases the production of serotonin and endorphins, which improves mood.

Exercise and Memory

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) helps support the survival of existing neurons in the brain, and encourages the growth of new neurons and synapses. BDNF is important for long-term memory which means that children need this part of the brain operating at full capacity in order to retain information and succeed during class. Exercise has been shown to improve the BDNF process by a factor of three, which is a huge increase.

Exercise and Growth

Neurogenesis refers to the process by which neurons are generated, and it plays a central role in the neural development of children. Exercise has been shown to foster new brain cell growth, meaning it can increase the rate in which children learn and retain memory along with the increased BDNF synthesis which preserves the survival of existing cells.

Thank you for bearing with us as we explored the science behind exercise and how it improves brain functions. You can see why exercise and play are so important for the development of young minds. Children who are physically active on a regular basis will reap enormous benefits. Studies have shown that they:

• Are less likely to become overweight
• Have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
• Have reduced blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure
• Have higher self-esteem and reduced incidences of depression and anxiety
• Are more likely to build strong bones and muscles
• Are more attentive in school

We realize that in the winter it can be difficult for your children to find an appropriate outlet for exercise, which is why we have taken care of that during the school day. Here at St-Laurent Academy, we offer daily physical education for all our students from Daycare thru to High School, led our by physical education specialists.
We believe daily physical education benefits the mind, body, and spirit. We place an emphasis on healthy living, nutrition, and skill development with sports from basketball and soccer to gymnastics, yoga, squash, and swimming. St-Laurent Academy is a member of the Ottawa Independent Schools Athletic Association, so students also have the opportunity to compete against students from other private schools in Ottawa throughout the school year.