Imagine the sound of your parents’ voices in the morning, “Wake up, time to get ready…did you hear me?!”  Or, “If I have to wake you up one more time!” Familiar words? We all have heard this at some point or another. Getting up in the morning is a gruesome task, along with staying focused in school, remembering which class is next, who gets what homework and what has to be done once we get home. It’s simple for some to manage it all and then for others, not so simple. This is all due to our body’s ability to focus and, believe it or not, the source to getting back on track is your heart. I won’t get into the science lesson of it all, but I will tell you this, the mind cannot work without the heart and the heart cannot work without the mind. Blood flow is needed for those neurons to fire off in your brain at the right pace, and your heart cannot work without the brain. It has to tell the heart to stay up and do its job.

Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. In an online magazine article talking about the performance of students who walk as opposed to students who get a ride, writer Sarah Goodyear spoke of research done as late as 2012 by Niels Egelund of Aarhus University in Denmark. The research proved that students who walk and or bike to school perform better than students who get a ride to school.

Yeah, it is cold right now, but this is where the mind comes in, Denmark is cold too. Egelund said, “I believe that deep down we were naturally and originally not designed to sit still. We learn through our head and by moving. Something happens within the body when we move, and this allows us to be better equipped afterwards to work on the cognitive side.”  See, our minds do better when we are more active. So, if walking or riding to school is not an option for you, then think of some other fun, easy and accessible ways to get up and get moving. Your mind will thank you, and so will your parents, teachers and grades!

Don’t forget to include protein rich foods and essential vitamins daily for your heart, along with a good night’s YMCA2sleep. Sleep doesn’t only leave your face looking flawless and young for a long time, but it also resets the brain overnight for your daily activities for the next day. Finding balance is the key to a healthy heart and mind.

So go download a pedometer app and grab some friends to exercise for at least an hour a day, train yourself to eat the right things and see if your mind and heart let you down. I dare you!

Your teacher is going to be so impressed when he or she sees that you have been training that mind of yours through self-teaching and not waiting on her to tell you to focus, stay on task and excel as a student.  Besides, you probably know that anyway. Are you still there?

YMCA3Written by Deniece Smith.  Program coordinator at the YMCA of Rock River Valley. She oversees the Walking School Bus program and walks a group of children more than a mile to school every day.