• Sumo

By Ken Reed

The mountain of evidence correlating physical fitness and brain health is about as high as Everest these days.

And it keeps growing.

A new study published last month in Scientific Reports revealed that the more fit young adults were (mostly in their 20’s) the more robust their white matter looked and the better they did on memory and thinking skills tests.

“Even at a young age, physical fitness has beneficial effects not just on the body, but also on brain health and brain functioning,” said Dr. Jonathan Repple, a psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher at the University of Munster in Germany, who oversaw the study.

The research project found that relatively out-of-shape young people generally fared worse on memory and cognitive skills tests. Their brain scans also showed white matter that was slightly weaker and more frayed than in the brains of the young people who were in better shape physically.

Cardiovascular-based exercise is one of the best things young people can do for their physical, mental and emotional health. Yet, K-12 schools across the United States continue the disturbing trend of cutting recess, physical education classes and intramural sports opportunities.

As the evidence grows that physically fit children are healthier, perform better academically and have fewer behavioral problems, the number of physical activity options in our schools shrinks.

Is this not a case of educational malpractice?

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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