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  • Writer's pictureJordanna Spaulding

5 Ways Exercise Can Influence the Way Our Brains and Bodies Process Information.

1. Limit Stress

2. Control Anxiety

3. Increase Focus & Productivity

4. Navigate though ADHD

5. Change your Mood

Do you admire people who are able to get up early, before work and go to the gym, go for a run, attend yoga classes regularly, all before the sunrise?

How do they do it? How are so many people able to get motivated before the sun wakes up the sky?

Let me tell you. I was also once a critic of an early morning workout session. Last March I decided that working out at the end of my day was challenging. All I wanted to do was get home, have dinner, hang out with Boomhaur (my dog), and take it easy for the last few hours of my day. But I decided I needed to try something different. So I was going to give it 2 weeks. I set my schedule for 3 days a week to wake up at 5, be at the gym by 5:45, workout, shower, and head to work by 7:15. The first few days were really challenging to get up, but I would remind myself of how great I felt after the workout. All of the sudden being at work at 7:30 didn't make me cringe. I was happier, excited, more motivated, focused, and found myself choosing healthier options at meal times. I'm sure you have heard similar stories before. So what Jordanna? I'm not like you. I am not sporty, athletic, or coordinated.

I am telling you this simple story because I want to share with you positive changed I have seen in myself with exercise as my friend. In 1 year I went from hip surgery to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I set goals and I did not stop working hard to continue to make my body stronger. On the road to recovery, I learned more about my body; how to train, how to stretch, how to eat, how to focus, how to engage my muscles and get stronger.

My story is just like so many others out there. But what is it that I did for myself?

Research states, elevating your heart rate to 60-70% of its maximum capacity can have consequences that benefit your mental and physical health.

"A gym session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem," according to the MAYO Clinic.

How does this all relate to children? People's bodies all react similarly to exercise. Children with Special Needs sometimes are dealing with a need in muscular development, a need with sensory input and processing, a need in attending for increased periods of time, a need in controlling anxiety, a need in controlling mood swings, outbursts, and meltdowns, and so many more needs.

A study completed in Naperville, Illinois called Learning Readiness Physical Education Program, was founded in 2004. Students who are identified as below grade level in an academic area participate in the LRPE program. They enroll in a PE class 1 or 2 periods before their academic area of need. According to the LRPE website, "The activities in the PE class are varied. Every other day is a cardio work out of some kind. Heart rate data is taken with the hopes of students acquiring 20 minutes in the zone between 155-200 beats per minute...Cross lateral activities and activities requiring balance are also valuable. Balance is another component that needs emphasis. At lower levels, coordination and loco-motive movements is crucial."

The Results?

Anxiety, stress, ADHD, happier Moods, can change. Our bodies are meant to move, to get stronger, and to engage with our environments.

Naperville High School The school has been ranked in the top 3% of high schools nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

Its not a coincidence that the emphasis the school has on exercise to support its struggling learners is reflected with its highly competitive academic results. Naperville High School is competitive within the global academic community.

I can't get my child up before school for exercise.

That's OK. Though exercise can be most beneficial to do before an area of need, or as a replacement behavior for negative behaviors, research shows that exercising consistently with integrated cardio, dynamic movements, and balance can still have positive results.

For more information on the positive influence exercise has on our bodies and brains, click the links below.

The data:

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