Today, after a long stretch of winter head colds and below-zero windchill, we got an unseasonably warm day here in the Midwest. Finally, after spending days stuck in the house, I was able to take my kids out for a bike ride and some time at the park.
Just two hours in the sun—running around, climbing the jungle gym, and biking the trail—completely changed the mood of our entire family. Days like today are a reminder of just how important it is that my kids move on a regular basis if I want our household to maintain its upbeat attitude.
Of course, dealing with cabin fever isn’t the only benefit to active play. In fact, recent research indicates that active play is so much more than a chance for kids to burn off steam. According to a study published by the University of Stirling and BBC Learning’s Terrific Science Campaign, a little exercise every day can enhance how kids perform in school.
How Playtime Can Turn Kids Into High-Achievers
Kids who move more report feeling happier and experience improvements in their cognition.
The kids in the University of Stirling/BBC study were given the chance to take brief breaks from school to engage in physical activity. The kids who were encouraged to run or walk at their own pace fared better when it was time to head back to the classroom. They had an easier time remembering what they were learning and showed improved attention spans.
The researchers responsible for this study believe there is a practical takeaway from the results: Teachers should encourage their students to take regular breaks for self-paced exercise throughout the day. Doing this could help children enjoy their schoolwork more and succeed more easily.
Five Ideas to Get Your Kids Moving
Teachers aren’t the only adults who can benefit from keeping the kids in their care active; parents should use this knowledge to their advantage, too! Keeping your kids active can help them perform better in school and could make getting through homework simpler in the evenings.
Encourage your children to engage in short spurts of self-paced exercise when they are at home. It doesn’t have to elaborate and intense and it certainly doesn’t have to be boring! Here are few ideas for getting your little students moving more:
1. Ride it out.
Family bike rides are an amazing way to keep the whole family moving. If you find that you and your kids are staring at screens in the evening, try changing things up once a week. Plan ahead to bond in the great outdoors and pencil it in on the family calendar to keep yourself accountable.
2. Shake your groove thing.
Two of my three kids are too little to ride their own bikes, but you’re never too little to dance. When the weather’s too cold for outdoor play, we put on our favorite playlist and spend half an hour dancing around the living room.
3. Hit the trails.
Children belong in nature. There is dirt. There are bugs. There is always a chance to run and climb. What more could they ask for? Fill a backpack with water, snacks, and a first aid kit. Turn off Saturday morning cartoons and spend the weekend exploring local nature sanctuaries or state parks.
4. Mommy and Me
No matter how little your kids are, there are plenty of chances to get moving in most communities. Mommy-and-me classes are great for new moms and their babies or toddlers. Check out water babies classes at your local pool or sign up for mommy-and-me yoga.
5. Take it to court.
Most community centers have open gym several times a week. Lace up your sneakers and take the entire family for a family basketball game. Learning to dribble and shoot is the perfect way to fill an afternoon as a family.