What does jumping have to do with genius? Everything. Physical exercise is crucial to brain development. Jumping is an easy, fun, and quick way to get your kids up out of their seat and moving, whether you hand them or rope or teach them leapfrog.
In a world of sedentary activity we also seem to have increasing problems with thought. The push on academics and the increasing amount of time children spend at their desk, have not made our children smarter. Could it be that the answer is not more time at desks, but getting up and jumping around more?
The importance of physical activity can be seen throughout history. The ancient Greeks highly prized their top athletes. Every boy not only went to school to study, but also to train his body for sports competitions. (This had the added benefit of making sure the city-states were ready to go to war at a moment’s notice.)
Even in our desk centered modern culture, we still prize our top athletes as heroes. We know, somewhere deep inside, that what they do is amazing. We know our bodies matter. We know we should exercise to have a healthy heart and strong muscles. But we are just starting to realize we need to move for our brain. We forget our brain needs oxygen too.
If you want your kids to be smart, teach them to jump rope. Teach them to double skip, double Dutch, and hula-hoop. Neuroscientists are finding more and more connections, showing how physical movement has a direct effect on the brain.
Here are 5 reasons why keeping your kids moving helps them learn more efficiently
1. The Cerebrum
The cerebrum is the part of the brain where learning is processed, it is this same area of the brain that processes planned movement, such as walking, dance, swimming, and jumping.
2. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
BDNF is a protein produced inside nerve cells. This protein is essential to promote, function, health, and growth of brain cells. The body’s production of protein increases when you exercise.
3. White Matter
Movement increases the quality of the white matter in your brain. The quality of white matter determines how fast and efficiently your brain processes information.
4. Makes Your Brain Bigger
Many studies suggest that people who exercise regularly have more brain mass in several regions of the brain.
We all know that oxygen is vital to every part of our body. Did you know that your brain uses 3 times the amount of oxygen as your muscles? Whenever we get up and move around a bit, even if it is just a 5 minute movement break, between academic study, it increases the blood flow to our brain making sure enough oxygen is available to fuel the hard work which the brain is about to undertake.
“It is our movements that not only express knowledge and facilitate greater cognitive function, they actually grow the brain as they increase in complexity. Our entire brain structure is intimately connected to and grown by the movement mechanisms within our body.” Smart Moves – Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.
So if you havn’t made plans to get your kids moving, buy a jump rope and get busy. Sign up for dance or a sport, or join a gym or swim club. If they are still little getting them to move is as easy as a trip to the park. The CDC recommends children get at least 60 minutes of intense physical activity per day.
Jumping leads to genius because humans are hard-wired to move.
The following links are references to information in this post and are great articles if you want to learn more.