Physical Activity Helps Boost Cognitive Abilities in Children

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Everyone knows that recess is good for children, but most people do not know why, thus leaving room for schools to cut down or altogether cut out recess. This can damage children and inhibit learning. In 2005, an estimated 40% of schools had cut back or eliminated recess from the average elementary student’s school day (Bland). Teachers may need more instructional time to meet the new demand from standardized testing, but extended unstructured play is essential. It increases children’s cognitive abilities by promoting healthy chemical exchanges within the brain during physical activity, giving more room for creativity, and improving social skills.
Physical activity helps boost cognitive abilities in children. Recess generally involves a lot of running, playing, and games involving exercise. In fact, recent research has found a direct correlation between intelligence and physical fitness, especially in children under 16 years old and elderly persons (Pica 64). In a study conducted by F. L. Martens, academic scores, attitudes, and fitness were improved when a third of the school day was dedicated to recess. Another study study found that at least five hours of physical activity resulted in substantially higher academic achievement in the core subjects (Pica 63).
Exercise is known to produce endorphins and BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) (Widrich). BDNF is a protein that promotes the survival of nerve cells, it plays a role in the growth, maturation, and maintenance…