It breaks my heart . . .

Accompanying the childhood obesity epidemic is another threat to our children's well being.

Our children are losing their capacity to think and learn.

A big part of this worrisome trend I'll place squarely at the feet of electronics.

But the big problem – closely linked to screen-addiction – is the lack of exercise and movement.

We're built for action. We stay healthier when we exercise.

But now we're learning that exercise means more than just a strong body – it is essential for a sharp mind.

A growing body of research demonstrates that in addition to keeping you in shape physically, moving your body also keeps you in shape mentally.

And much of this research focuses on how exercise can help children in the classroom. A team of researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have been doing some terrific research showing how important exercise is for your children.

And I thought I'd pass it along . . .

When Kids Exercise It Helps Them Learn, Think And Problem Solve

Dr. Catherine Davis, a clinical health psychologist, and her team worked with 171 overweight 7- to 11-year-olds for 3 months. Every day after school they spent 40 minutes exercising after school

The research team measured the results using testing and found that intelligence scores increased an average of 3.8 points for the children who exercised 40 minutes a day.

But even more specifically, the children saw significant improvements in their math skills. And this is without any additional math classes.

MRI's showed that the children who exercised had increased activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain – an area associated with complex thinking, decision-making and correct social behavior.

The folks in Georgia aren't the only ones studying this . . .

My daughter used our family for a similar experiment for a science project. She had us exercise on specific days. After each round of exercise we took a math quiz and memorized a random list of numbers which we had to recite after an interim of a few minutes. For comparison's sake, she also had us do the same tasks on days we didn't exercise beforehand.

While she found a slight increase in performance, the difference was not significant. And this fits neatly with what other researchers in the exercise-brain power arena have been finding: The big gains are over time and from habitual exercise.

In other words, one bout of exercise may wake you up to do a math problem. But the real brain-building will come in making it a routine thing.

The takeaway here?

With school back in session our children need exercise more than ever. And they need it regularly for the best results.

So even though your schedule has gotten a little more hectic . . . there's dinner to cook . . . homework to help on . . . and more . . .

Make sure you squeeze some activity in.

Maybe it's my old standby – a dance jam to some favorite tunes for 15 minutes.

Maybe you go on a family bike ride after dinner or play a little soccer.

I also suggest integrating active breaks during homework and study time. Set the timer for half an hour and ask your children to focus for that time. (You can even set it for 15 or 20-minute increments, if that better fits your children's attention span).

When the timer goes off, take a break with some activity. Jump rope together, shoot some hoops.

It doesn't have to be a full workout at the gym. Most importantly is that you integrate more activity into your children's day.

And give your children the mental boost they need to succeed through exercise.

Author's Bio: 

Health educator and family fitness expert, Sarah Clachar provides tips, strategies and inspiration for parents who want to fit more fitness into their family time. You can create your own customized family fitness plan for free by visiting