SOURCE: The Little Gym International

December 14, 2015 15:18 ET

New Studies Link Learning Skills to Physical Activity Levels

Child Development Pros at The Little Gym Say Recent Research Creates a Challenge for Parents When Schools Fall Short on Physical Education

SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(Marketwired - Dec 14, 2015) - For most children, the shorter days of fall and winter limit time and opportunity for active, physical play. This is a problem, say the child development specialists at The Little Gym, because current research indicates that physical activity is much more than simply fun and games; it is an important contributor to successful learning.

A recent study that set out to look at the health effects of excess body fat and inactivity in children discovered a link between physical activity and brain function.* Researchers compared mental skills between active children and inactive children and found that, even among children of normal weight, active children did better on tests that involved skills like planning and paying attention. The Little Gym President and CEO Ruk Adams says that these results are good news, because physical activity is something that families can take steps to boost by supplementing, if necessary, the physical education that their children receive during the school day.

While studies like this one show that physical exercise can enhance a child's ability to learn, the majority of parents responding to a recent poll that National Public Radio conducted in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health gave their children's schools a low grade for their lack of focus on physical activity.** "This contradiction challenges parents of school age children to find a way to incorporate physical activity into their child's day, outside of school," says Adams.

Fortunately, families have a range of options to choose from to encourage their children to stay physically active. School- or community-based sports programs provide children with an opportunity to grow both their physical and social skills. Some children thrive on specialized training in disciplines like gymnastics or dance and some children turn to neighborhood friends for active play. "The important thing is to choose a program that your child enjoys so that it's something the child will want to continue to do," says Adams. "Parents of toddlers and preschoolers should also take note: making physical activity a 'habit' for your children at an early age may not only enhance your child's potential to learn; it will also help lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy living."

The fun programs at The Little Gym help children ages 4 months to 12 years develop physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills in a supportive, non-competitive environment. For more information, please visit www.TheLittleGym.com.

* http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20151102/weight-exercise-may-affect-childrens-thinking-skills

** http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2013/12/education-and-health-in-american-schools-2013.html

About The Little Gym
The Little Gym is an internationally recognized program that helps children build the developmental skills and confidence needed at each stage of childhood. The very first location was established in 1976 by Robin Wes, an innovative educator with a genuine love for children. The Little Gym International, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., was formed in 1992 to franchise The Little Gym concept. Today, The Little Gym International has over 300 locations in 28 countries. For more information, visit The Little Gym at www.TheLittleGym.com

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