There’s been some interesting news from the Yorkshire Post where a recent study from King’s College, London shows that starting regular, intensive exercise as a child will have a strong impact on later-life mental health.
It’s pretty common knowledge now that exercise can help to prevent illnesses like cancer and heart disease. We know, too, that regular activity acts as a positive mood booster, lowering levels of anxiety and depression.
What’s unique to this study is the discovery that physical activity has a direct impact on brain functions like memory, learning, attention, and reasoning. Functions that tend to decline as we get older, making it harder for us to be independent as we age.
Those who showed the best brain function as older adults were those who’d been doing intensive physical activity since they were kids. To see similar benefits, 150 minutes of activity a week is recommended. That breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise five days a week or 50 minutes three times a week.
Don’t get down if this seems like a big commitment, particularly if you’re just starting to be more active with your kids. Dr. Ian Campbell, government advisor and founder of the National Obesity Forum, says, ‘Yes, 30 minutes five times a week is the ideal, but any regular activity will improve mental function, and reduce the risk of mental decline.’
How many minutes of physical activity do your kids get in a week? What could you do to increase that time?
About the author: Stephanie Rogers: After a rocky relationship with physical activity when she was younger, highlights of which include having her bathing suit ‘malfunction’ in front of her hunky swim teacher and rebounding off a chain-link fence while pursuing a frisbee, Stephanie is tentatively enjoying sport as a grown-up because people in yoga classes don’t laugh. At least, not out loud.