By Michael O'Shea
Publication Date: 01/11/2009 PARADE MAGAZINE
As childhood obesity rates soar and kids spend more time sitting in front of their computers than playing outdoors, diabetes and other weight-related illnesses are on the rise. But physical health isn’t the only thing at stake. According to a study by the California Department of Education, kids’ fitness levels also may affect their performance in school. The study found that increased amounts of physical fitness translated into higher academic achievement at each of the three grade levels measured. The benefits were most evident in math scores. And girls, particularly those at higher fitness levels, demonstrated greater achievement than boys. Another study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found that increased physical activity had a positive effect on academic performance. Previous research has led doctors to surmise that exercise may encourage new brain-cell growth. A workout for your body also is a workout for your mind. Help kids get in shape, and they may bring home higher test scores and better grades.