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Keep Your Kids Active When They Return to School

Keep Your Kids Active When They Return to School

Shut Up and Sit Down with the Sopranos was an evening Q&A and dinner theater put together by Lorraine Bracco (Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist on the HBO series) to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Many of the stars of the series attended this hilarious event on the 10th anniversary of the last show of the series.

In that context, “shut up and sit down” is a pretty funny line, but it’s not so funny when, after running around all summer, it’s what (roughly translated) your kids heard when they returned to the classroom in fall.

Curtailing physical activity isn’t smart. The best way for kids to learn new info and build cognitive reserve (the ability to optimize or maximize brain performance) is to make sure they get plenty of exercise—along with discovering new information and interacting socially with classmates!

The facts: Kids who regularly exercise perform better in scool and on standardized tests—in a Scottish study, the strongest association was with girls’ scores on science tests. And in a study of Italian schoolchildren, pretest activity boosted test scores. Plus, cognitive reserve not only makes it easier for children to learn today, new research reveals it can help protect their brains from neurodegenerative damage later in life.

So, help your children build cognitive reserve. Make sure they get a minimum of 90 minutes of daily exercise at school, after school and on weekends with organized activities and unstructured play.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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