Back To School Tips

Exercise and Learning

There is an undeniable connection between fitness and mental health. Our young children today need physical activity to excel academically and it has been shown through many studies. If we make fitness a priority for our children, we will see a much more well-rounded individual.

Exercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to on another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.

How does fitness affect GPA? Studies consistently show students with higher fitness scores also have higher academic test scores. A review of over 850 studies that covered a wide range of issues, such as obesity, cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, depression, anxiety, self-concept, bone density, and academic performance recommended that schoolchildren should participate in one hour (or more) of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. Looking specifically at academic performance, the panel reported that physical activity has a positive influence on memory, concentration, and classroom behavior.

Healthy After School Snack: Paleo Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • optional: chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*

  2. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients (eggs, applesauce, vanilla, honey) stir until fully combined

  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined

  4. Scoop batter into a lined muffin pan. The batter will be thick.

  5. Bake 23-25 minutes

  6. Remove and check center with toothpick to see if they are done.

Backpack Recommendations

Straps

  • Thick straps that are padded to distribute weight evenly

  • Adjustable straps to fit the backpack properly

Position

  • With the bag on, it should not be any lower than the belt line

    • When too low, it pulls your child into a flexed forward position

  • Backpack shouldn’t extend above the shoulders

  • Both straps on the shoulders rather than only using one

Weight

  • Bag should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s weight

    • Example: a 100-pound child shouldn’t carry more than a 10 pound bag

  • Pack the bag so heavier contents are at the bottom if possible

Mobility and Flexibility in Kids

Most people realize how important flexibility is, but not many know about mobility and if it means the same as being flexible.  The two terms mobility and flexibility are often used to refer to the same thing, but are quite different.  Mobility refers to the joints and if they are moving properly, while flexibility is how the soft tissues like muscles are functioning.  In our kids we are seeing more and more injury and pain caused by a lack of proper mobility and flexibility, often with an underlying stabilization issue as well.  But for today, let's talk just about the mobility and flexibility concerns. 

When our kids sit most of the day at school, likely many hours at night either doing homework, playing video games, or spending time on other devices, our bodies will start to form improper habits and will start to tighten in certain areas.  Most know that slouching is poor posture, but what is really at stake here?  The thoracic spine, the part in the middle of your back, starts to become immobile in the two vital movements it is designed to do, which are extension and rotation.  With limits in mobility in this part of our spine, we often will see neck and shoulder injuries, and/or lower back and hip injuries.  The second important area are the hips.  The hips get very tight in the anterior components, hip flexors and quads, which cause the hip joints to get tight and also pulling on the lower back excessively.  

To help prevent these issues, we can do some simple things.  Dynamic stretching of the hip flexors and quads, and mobility drills for the spine.  All of these things we have covered in past videos on our facebook page or youtube channel.  This is becoming more and more of an issue with our kids, and to truly get them moving well and to keep them healthy we always encourage a check up with us at the office. 

Exercise and learning information from the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, MD

Paleo Muffin Recipe from Mama Knows Gluten Free