Do Kids Who Ski Become Smarter and Healthier Adults?
While physical activity is important to overall health and wellness for everyone skiing in particular is one of the best physical activities for children. It combines the physical (strength, agility, and cardiovascular exercise) with the mental (confidence, learning from mistakes) for a perfect day of exercise, learning, and fun.
Movement & Improved Cognition in Children
According to a 2013 study in Finland kids in first through third grade with poor motor skills also have poor reading and arithmetic skills. In addition, kids who perform better in motor-skills tests scored higher in arithmatic and reading. A 2016 follow-up study found that 6- to 8-year-old boys with high levels of sedentary time and low levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were at an increased risk to perform poorly in reading and arthitmetic during first, second, and third grades.
Danish researchers went a bit further to try to d find the actual link between physical activity and cognition. In a statement to Psychology Today, head researcher Jacob Wienecke said, "The children learn more if they move and use the whole body to learn. Compared to previous studies which demonstrated that intense physical activity could improve learning outcomes, we have been able to show that lower intesity activities are just as effective, or even more effective, as long as movement is integrated into the topic at hand."
The Main Takeaways & How to Tie Learning Into Skiing
So what does the above mean? Basically, two things:
1) Regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise has been linked to improved cognitive performance in children, overall.
2) Specifically integrating movement and learning has been shown to enhance learning and performance.
Therefore, if you and the kids are going to hit the slopes, it's the perfect time to incorporate some basic physics and math lessons as you calculate trajectories, angles, and velocity. Research says the lessons are likely to stick with your kid long after you pack up the skis and head home.
It Gets Better: Physically Active Children Go On to Be Healthier Adults
A study titled "Fit in 50 Years" followed 712 WWII veterans who were healthy as young men and surveyed them 50 years later to determine what personality traits lead to staying healthy and fit. Their conclusion? The researchers found that "openness to experience" was strongly linked to an inclination to participate in athletic activities and remain physically active into your seventies. Therefore, an adventurous mindset is key to remaining physically active and healthy throughout your lifetime. What better way to encourage being adventurous during the winter than to hit the slopes?
A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside also conducted a study to determine if exercising at an early age affects propensity to continue exercising later in life. This study, conducted on mice, found that mice who exercised at an earlier age maintained a lower weight than their counterparts. Professor Theordore Garland, Jr. suggested in a press release to Psychology Today, "If kids exercise regularly through the school years, then they may be more likely to exercise as adults, which could have far-reaching positive effects on human health and well-being."
Gore Mountain: Gore Mountain in North Creek has a Snow Sports School, Holiday Camps for kids, daily lessons for kids, and private lessons for kids (or adults).
McCauley Mountain: McCauley Mountain in Old Forge has a Ski With Your Kids deal Mondays through Thursdays from 2pm to 4:15pm for just $5. They also offer group discounts.
West Mountain: West Mountain, located just outside the Adirondack Park in Queensbury, offers daily group, private, and semi-private lessons to all ability levels ages 4 and up.
Psychology Today: "Motor Skills, Movement, and Math Performance are Intertwined"
Psychology Today: "Physically Active Children Grow Up to Be Healthier Adults"