University of Texas at Austin
Friday, June 7, 2013
Moving for a Better Mind - Research shows a link between physical activity, fitness and brain function
“There’s substantial scientific proof that physical activity improves children’s physical health and offers health benefits that continue through adulthood,” says Darla Castelli, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education and a national expert on physical education.
“We’re amassing strong data that show a change in level of physical health and fitness leads to a change in cognitive health. Ideally, these findings will help bump physical education from the category of ‘optional’ to ‘absolutely essential’,” she adds.
Castelli contributed to a report issued May 23 by the Institute of Medicine that says schools should play a key role in ensuring all students have the opportunity to engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity each day. Harold W. Kohl III, Castelli's colleague in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, was chair of the committee that wrote the report. Read a USA Today story about the report.
Castelli is hopeful that her research on the link between physical fitness and cognitive health will spur communities and schools to press for reforms.
“It’s been proven that sitting and doing nothing is terrible for our bodies,” said Castelli. “That includes the brain. With the data we now have, I’m hopeful that parents and communities will speak up and demand that adequate amounts of high-quality physical education be part of every single school day. The fact is that the quality of a child’s academic work in all of the other classes depends on it.”
A version of this story originally appeared on the College of Education’s website.
To reduce childhood obesity and help children realize their academic potential, Castelli recommends: