How exercise improves brain function in children

Harvard Professor John Ratey, MD Psychiatrist, shares advice for parents on how you can improve your child's brain function by making sure that he or she gets plenty of exercise
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How exercise improves brain function in children

There’s been so much proof coming out all over the world about how exercise improves brain function. The best that I’ve seen in the past few years has been a study out of Sweden where they looked at 1.2 million boys at the age of 15. And they gave the a battery of IQ and cognitive function tests, as well as they evaluated their aerobic fitness and a little bit of their muscle strength. They repeated this when they all entered military service at the age of 18 – compulsory military service. So they add, over 26 year period, 1.2 million boys. And what they found was that those boys that had improved cardiovascular or their aerobic function and they run further, and faster and longer, improved – their IQs went up, their cognitive performance went up. Whereas those that stayed the same didn’t improve statistically. And this included 600 sets of identical twins over this period of time. And the twin that may have improved cardiovascularly and aerobically, improved their IQ. They followed these children throughout their lives. Those that had a better aerobic function had higher academic achievement overall and their social-economic status improved better than those that didn’t improve during this crucial period.

Harvard Professor John Ratey, MD Psychiatrist, shares advice for parents on how you can improve your child's brain function by making sure that he or she gets plenty of exercise


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John Ratey, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

John J Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Research Synthesizer, Speaker, and Author, as well a Clinical Psychiatrist maintaining a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has lectured and published 60 peer reviewed articles on the topics of Aggression, Autism, ADHD, and other issues in neuropsychiatry.

Dr. Ratey has authored A Users Guide to the Brain and co-authored Shadow Syndromes  with Catherine Johnson, PhD. From 1994 to 2005 he co-authored Driven to DistractionAnswers to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction with Edward Hallowell, MD. Additionally, he has edited several books including The Neuropsychiatry of Personality Disorders. Most recently, Dr. Ratey has penned, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain published by Little Brown. In Spark, Dr. Ratey guides the reader to an understanding of neurobiology and inspires the reader to reach for their potential, and embrace exercise that is crucial for the brain and body to operate at peak performance.

Spark is fueling a movement to re-engineer school practices and medical recommendations to establish curriculum, lifestyles and corporate practices based on scientific principles. Providing the scientific foundation and research data, Dr. Ratey has been drafted into the groundswell of those whose mission it is to revitalize schools, combat the obesity crisis, stave off the encroaching epidemic of Sedentarism, by returning to evolutionary principles of physical exercise and proper diet thereby combating syndrome X, the underlying causation of much chronic disease.

Each year since 1995, Dr. Ratey has been selected by his peers as one of the Best Doctors in America. In his dedication to changing the world, Dr. Ratey has founded The Ratey Institute whose mission is to broadcast life changing science and establish the best practice policies first in our school and then other organizations to reclaim human health.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, released in 2008, is the culmination of years of experience with the brain body connection, new research data, and the synthesis of biological sciences. Spark is revolutionizing how we see the human species. A call to return to our evolutionary roots; to get in sync with our metabolic design honed through eons of survival to optimize mental and physical health. 

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