This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Learning and the Brain: Executive Functions in Education in Washington, D.C. I’ve returned energized and excited to share all of the new connections I’ve made to our grey matter and learning. One of the most unexpected ah-ha moments came when Dr. John Ratey began speaking about the research behind his newest book, Spark.
Not being a rather athletic person (ok, I’m a couch potato) I wasn’t especially excited about the premise. I settled in to listen to a speaker that I thought I wouldn’t have any connections with. Oh, how wrong I was. Dr. Ratey explained with panache and humor how our brains are physically effected by exercise. He showed us results from numerous studies pointing to lower behavioral difficulties and raised academic scores for children when frequent, heart-rate rising exercise was part of the day.
For those of you who are already in love with a heart-pumping past-time, this may not necessarily be news. Yet, in the education community, this is monumental. Imagine being able to help children with mild attention troubles or anxiety simply by setting a routine that adds more activity to their day. Think about the revolution this could cause in states that have disbanded PE in favor of more prep time for high stakes testing.
Luckily, we already move a lot during the day in Pre-K, but I bet we could do more. The best part about this research is that it simply gives us a very concrete reason to do something we’ve already decided was important. Many people exercise for their health, for the summer swimsuit they want to fit into, for the joy of it. Now, they can sweat with gusto knowing that they are improving their brain function as well.
These ideas inspired even this couch potato to get up and get movin’.