Friday, June 7, 2013

Moving for a Better Mind - Research shows a link between physical activity, fitness and brain function

Darla Castelli
University of Texas at Austin
This original story was written by Kay Randall, College of Education University of Texas at Austin. Here are excerpts from an original article. The full text and a wonderful video can be found by clicking HERE. -Dr. Petrosino 

“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:
  • ensuring that children engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes each day
  • providing time for structured physical activity as well as informal physical activity (play)
  • measuring the physical activity intensity
  • embedding physical activity in the overall school curriculum
  • allowing physical activity breaks at least every 60 minutes during the school day, even more for young children
  • providing highly trained physical education teachers who also serve as Physical Activity Leaders (PALs)
  • offering professional development training for educators and administrators
  • ensuring physical activity opportunities before and after school