There was a time when school recess was considered a way for kids to burn off energy so they would sit still for book learning. Now a days, thanks to scientific research, we know exercise is indeed good for the body but it is also great for the brain.
Research shows physical activity improves memory in the elderly and encourages neuronal growth in the young.
How can we harness this type of research to convince schools, daycare centers, and parents to get enthusiastic about kids yoga? Wouldn’t it be great to have scientifically supported evidence to promote yoga for kids?
Well good news, a group of scientific researchers gathered to investigate the effects of exercise on kids’ brains and shared with the world their consensus on the benefits of exercise!
In the year 2016 this happened at the aptly named Copenhagen Consensus Conference. Researchers from eight different countries came together to issue a joint statement on the effect of exercise on kids’ health.
Consensus on the Benefits of Exercise for Children from Researchers
They agreed on the easily guessable, common sense stuff, that exercise improves kids’ bones, muscles and hearts. They also agreed that the fitness levels of these in kids is a good predictor of whether or not the they will go on to develop heart disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases later in life.
8 Reasons why Exercise, Like Kids Yoga, Improves School Performance
The Copenhagen Consensus didn’t stop at the physical benefits of exercise; they reported on the mental and emotional effects of exercise. They agreed that:
- Physical activity improves brain structure, brain function and cognition.
- Physical activity before, during and after school improves performance in other school work.
- Learning to master physical movements improves performance in school work
- Regular physical activity can improve kids’ self-esteem and relationships with peers and adults
- Focused physical activity creates a good motivational environment for kids
- Exercise programs promote life skills and core values in kids
- Two additional points that the Copenhagen Consensus group agreed on are worth highlighting. They agreed that a single session of physical activity helps kid’s brains. That means a single game of soccer, a single recess of tag, a single yoga class can result in measurable benefits to kids mental activity.
- The next important point the group agreed on was that spending time being physically active doesn’t sacrifice performance in school work. On the contrary, spending time on physical activity helps overall school performance.
In other words, schools (and parents) have absolutely no good reason to declare their kids don’t have time for an exercise program because they are focusing on school work. Exercise increases performance in school work.
Exercise to Improve Scholastic Performance
As yoga teachers we can stress the importance of exercise by asking: do you want kids to study for the sake of studying, or do you want kids to improve their scholastic performance?
Because if the aim is to create better students, then kids should spend some time with a ball instead of a pen and some time doing downward dog instead of sitting behind a desk.
You can read the full statement by The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016 here.
For ideas to bring kids yoga into schools, check out these two resources: