Why Exercise is Important for the Brain…and a Great Way to Jump Start the Day!

Written by Coach Chamberlain, Physical Education and Sports Coordinator

As I read different articles on the internet about cutting back Physical Education in schools across the country, it only motivates me to do more as a Physical Education Teacher. Some schools are deciding it is best to eliminate PE from a student’s schedule, yet I believe it is one of the most important parts of a student’s school day. Many kids are asked to sit in a classroom for 8 hours a day with very little movement, yet as adolescents, movement is key to learning. Make that movement fun and we have a recipe for success.

 

I am currently reading a book called “Spark” by John J. Ratey, MD., which explains the revolutionary new science of exercise and how it correlates to the brain. This book discusses how exercise supercharges our mental circuits, sharpens our thinking, lifts our mood, boosts our memory, along with several other benefits. It is thought that exercise is mainly good for the health of our bodies and physical fitness. However, there are many benefits exercise has on the brain as well.

 

This is a big reason why Horizon Academy decided to add a new before school program this year called Jump Start. Mondays and Wednesdays are set up as circuit training days, where students rotate through different stations designed to get them up and moving. Tuesdays and Thursdays incorporate more yoga/stretching, as well as movement games. In only a couple months, I am already seeing benefits in the students that attend Jump Start. A few students have PE first hour, and I can tell a difference from the ones that have already been up and moving at Jump Start versus the ones that are still trying to wake up. They are more engaged, more aware, and more alert.

 

This past week I incorporated interval training in Jump Start, and the response was inspiring. Students do an exercise for 30 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds, before switching to a different exercise. For example, one station was Jam Ball Slams and Wall Sits. With 5 different stations and 2 exercises at each station, students are getting a full body workout, building self-confidence, and preparing their brains for the school day ahead!