A recent New York Times Article, How Exercise May Help the Brain Grow Stronger, by Gretchen Reynolds, discusses a study published in the journal eLife, in which researchers with New York University’s Langone Medical Center and other institutions analyzed brain development in mice as a result of exercise. While it is too early to definitively determine whether exercise directly impacts brain development, the initial results reinforce what parents already know---kids need exercise.
Around the world there has been a movement to require a longer school year, by extending classroom hours or including additional weeks or even months. However, studies like these show that brain development does not only occur in a formal setting, but also through things like exercise (and of course diet and nutrition). As the school year draws to a close, parents should encourage their kids to enjoy the good weather and long days by being outside and exercising. Fortunately, the study indicates that benefits from exercise extend into adulthood, so parents should make the time to play with their kids. Additional exercise will help you as parents increase your BDNF, hopefully alleviate some stress and most importantly your kids will love spending time with you.