Want to give your kids an extra brain boost for their day? Consider a morning exercise routine to keep them energized and focused for the rest of the day.
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh great, yet another agenda item to add to our crazy morning routine. It’s hard enough to get them to find their shoes, let alone to exercise.”
But what if I told you that moving with your child in the morning can have immense impact their short-term and long-term brain development? And it can even ease the stress of that A.M. hustle.
Not only does exercise provide tons of physical perks for kids, like strengthening their heart, lungs, bones, and lowering blood sugar, but it also provides plenty of mental perks that can help your child stay more focused at school.
Exercise boosts your child’s mood, increases blood flow to the brain, and improves focus. And when done in the morning, you’re setting your kids up for a full day of success.
Here are the top 3 reasons to incorporate exercise into your child’s morning routine and how to do it without disrupting your already busy schedule.
Exercise Increases the Growth Rate of Your Child’s Brain
Getting that blood flowing does more than help your kids shake off morning grogginess. Moving can actually increase the rate at which their brain grows, and improve their ability to learn.
Just ask the people of Naperville Central School in Illinois. They make P.E. the first period with the intention to help kids better tackle their more cerebral classes, like math and science.
The goal is to get children’s heart rates to 160 bpm or above. This is the sweet spot is for more rapid brain growth. The higher the heart rate rises, the more blood flows to the brain, bringing it more of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to “grow,” or produce more neurons.
Just one hour of movement every morning can help your kids optimize their brain health and be ready to take on the school day.
Exercise Boosts Their Mood for the Day
Harvard experts did a study on students who participate in a before-school exercise program called Building Our Kids Success, or BOKS, to see the effect it had on the children and their ability to learn.
After 12 weeks, children who participated in BOKS showed not only lower BMI’s, but said they felt deeper social connections and happier with their lives in general.
What does that do for learning? A “bad mood” can cause a fight-or-flight response in students, causing them to be withdrawn, defensive, and closed off to learning.
A good mood, however, helps children be more present and open to learning.
According to Dr. David Rock of the Neuroleadership Institute, “Engagement is the state of being willing to do difficult things, to take risks, to think deeply about issues and develop new solutions…interest, happiness, joy and desire are approach emotions. This state is one of increased dopamine levels, important for interest and learning.”
Feeling positive can open entirely new gateways in your child’s mind.
Exercise Helps Kids Focus
Another study on how exercise in the morning can help a child’s brain development focused on children who participated in a 15-minute-long aerobics class before classes.
Students who participated in the “morning blast” exercise reported feeling ready to learn and, in turn, scored higher on math tests.
That sharpened focus is no placebo effect. According to Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark- The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and Brain” points out that exercise can raise focus for the entire 2-to-3 hours following the workout.
Next time your kiddo is nervous about a test, guide them through 15 minutes or more of activity and see how they feel afterwards. Chances are, they’ll be more prepared to take on the challenge!
How to Incorporate Exercise Into Your Morning Routine (Without Getting Busier)
One of the great things about exercise is it comes in so many different forms, all of which provide physical and mental benefits for your kids.
Try these creative ways to get your kids moving in the morning and see their focus and energy soar.
- Do morning workouts together. Ditch the treadmill for a while and join your kids in an exercise routine that you can do together. Not only do you both get to experience the health perks, but you get to sneak in some quality time before your day begins.
- Seek out morning exercise classes. Many schools around the country are picking up on the perks of morning exercise. See if your child’s school is one of them. Or if you plan on signing them up for one of the various Mountain Kids classes, aim for a morning slot to start the day off right.
- Make it a game. Make your morning a routine a Simon Says game with physical activities. “Simon Says do 5 jumping jacks, then put on your shoes!” This can help your child focus on the task at hand, while having fun and getting their brains prepped for learning. It can also help ease the morning stress by incorporating play.
With 15 minutes to an hour of physical exercise in the morning, your child can become more healthy, focused, confident and ready to take on a big day of learning. It might even help you into the routine yourself!
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