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Higher IQ Linked To This Type of Fitness

Study of 1.2 million people finds links between fitness and verbal comprehension and logical thinking skills.

Young adults who are fitter have a higher IQ and are more likely to go on to higher education, research finds.

Higher IQ is linked to a higher heart and lung capacity, not to muscular strength.

Heart and lung capacity was most strongly linked to verbal comprehension and logical thinking skills.

Professor Michael Nilsson, one of the study’s authors, said:

 “Being fit means that you also have good heart and lung capacity and that your brain gets plenty of oxygen.
This may be one of the reasons why we can see a clear link with fitness, but not with muscular strength.
We are also seeing that there are growth factors that are important.”

The researchers found that the link is down to environmental factors, not genes.

In other words, it could be possible to increase your IQ by getting fitter.

Dr Maria Åberg, the study’s first author, said:

“We have also shown that those youngsters who improve their physical fitness between the ages of 15 and 18 increase their cognitive performance.
This being the case, physical education is a subject that has an important place in schools, and is an absolute must if we want to do well in maths and other theoretical subjects.”

The conclusions come from a study of 1.2 million Swedish men doing their military service, who were born between 1950 and 1976.

source: PSYBLOG  AUGUST 25, 2017


Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students

You might call it a silent epidemic.

Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.

So in a school classroom of 25 students, five of them may be struggling with the same issues many adults deal with: depression, anxiety, substance abuse.

And yet most children — nearly 80 percent — who need mental health services won’t get them.

Whether treated or not, the children do go to school. And the problems they face can tie into major problems found in schools: chronic absence, low achievement, disruptive behavior and dropping out.

Experts say schools could play a role in identifying students with problems and helping them succeed. Yet it’s a role many schools are not prepared for.

Educators face the simple fact that, often because of a lack of resources, there just aren’t enough people to tackle the job. And the ones who are working on it are often drowning in huge caseloads. Kids in need can fall through the cracks.

“No one ever asked me”

Katie is one of those kids.

She’s 18 now. Back when she was 8, she had to transfer to a different school in Prince George’s County, Md., in the middle of the year.

“At recess, I didn’t have friends to play with,” she recalls. “I would make an excuse to stay inside with the teachers and finish extra work or do extra credit.”

We’re not using Katie’s last name to protect her privacy. She’s been diagnosed with bulimia and depression.

She says that in the span of a few months, she went from honor roll to failing. She put on weight; other kids called her “fat.” She began cutting herself with a razor every day. And she missed a ton of school.

“I felt like every single day was a bad day,” she says. “I felt like nobody wanted to help me.”

Katie says teachers acted like she didn’t care about her schoolwork. “I was so invisible to them.”

Every year of high school, she says, was “horrible.” She told her therapist she wanted to die and was admitted into the hospital.

During all this time, she says, not a single principal or teacher or counselor ever asked her one simple question: “What’s wrong?”

If someone had asked, she says, she would have told them.

Who should have asked?

We talked to educators, advocates, teachers and parents across the country. Here’s what they say a comprehensive approach to mental health and education would look like.

The family

The role: The first place to spot trouble is in the home, whether that trouble is substance abuse, slipping grades or a child who sleeps too much. Adults at home — parents, siblings, other relatives — are often the first to notice something going on.

The reality: Many families do not know what to look for. Sometimes a serious problem can be overlooked as “just a phase.” But it’s those sudden changes — angry outbursts, declining grades, changes in sleeping or eating — that can signal problems. When something unusual crops up, families can keep in close touch with the school.

child struggling

The teacher

The role: During the week, many students see their teachers even more than their own families. Teachers are in a prime spot to notice changes in behavior. They read essays, see how students relate with other kids and notice when they aren’t paying attention.

The reality: Teachers already have a ton on their plates. They’re pressured to get test scores up, on top of preparing lessons and grading assignments. Plus, many teachers receive minimal training in mental health issues. But when they do see something concerning, they can raise a flag.

The social worker

The role: Social workers act like a bridge. If teachers come to them with a concern — maybe a child is acting withdrawn — one of the first things they’ll do is call home. They see each child through the lens of their family, school and community. They might learn that a family is going through a divorce or homelessness.

The reality: There aren’t enough of them. According to one model, every school should have one social worker for every 250 students. The reality is that in some schools, social workers are responsible for many more.

The counselor

The role: In some schools, counselors focus solely on academics: helping students pick classes and apply to college. But in others, they also act a lot like social workers, serving as a link to families and working with students who need support.

The reality: Like school social workers, there just aren’t enough counselors. On average nationwide, each counselor is responsible for nearly 500 students. The American School Counselor Association recommends a caseload nearly half that size.

The special education teacher

The Role: Special education teachers may start working with students when a mental health problem affects the ability to do school work. They are primarily responsible for working on academic skills.

The reality: Again, there aren’t enough of them. Nearly every state has reported a shortage of special education teachers. Half of all school districts say they have trouble recruiting highly qualified candidates.

The school psychologist

The Role: Here’s one job that, on paper, is truly dedicated to student mental health. School psychologists are key players when it comes to crisis intervention and can refer students to outside help, such as a psychiatrist.

The reality: If you sense a pattern here, you’re right. In the U.S., there is just one school psychologist for every 1,400 students, according to the most recent data available from the National Association of School Psychologists.

The school nurse

The role: Most any school nurse will tell you, physical and mental health are tough to separate. That puts nurses in a prime spot to catch problems early. For example: A kid who comes into the nurse’s office a lot, complaining of headaches or stomach problems? That could be a sign of anxiety, a strategy to avoid a bully, or a sign of troubles at home.

The reality: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least one nurse for every 750 students, but the actual ratio across the country can be much higher.

The principal

The role: As the top dogs in schools, principals make the big decisions about priorities. They can bring in social-emotional, anti-bullying and suicide-prevention programs.

The reality: Principals also have a lot on their plates: the day-to-day management of student behavior, school culture and teacher support.

Getting help, and “excited for life”

Katie says things started to turn around for her when she met a nurse at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., who finally showed interest in what was wrong.

Now, she’s begun college and wants to be a pediatric nurse.

“I’m doing a lot better now” she says. ” Obviously, I mean, I’m a lot happier. I’m excited for school. I’m excited to graduate. I’m excited for life.”

Part One in an NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.
source: www.npr.org

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Here’s How To Cut High School Suicide Attempts 23%

Regular exercise for high school students can reduce suicide by 23%, a new study finds.

Exercise had a beneficial effect on both suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The study is the first to show that exercise can help students who are being bullied.

Dr Jeremy Sibold, who led the research, said:

“I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves.
Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it’s worth it.”

The US survey of 13,583 high school students found that physical activity on four or more days was linked to a 23% reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts.

bullying sad teen child depression
Bullied high school students three times as likely to think about suicide.

The survey also revealed that:

  • 30% of students reported feeling sad for two or more weeks over the past year.
  • 22% reported suicidal thoughts.
  • 8.2% reported suicide attempts.

Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness and three times as likely to think about suicide or try to act on those thoughts.

Suicide Awareness

Despite the benefits of exercise, many school administrators across the US are cutting physical education.

Currently only around half of young people in the US meet minimum standards for exercise (at least 60 minutes per day).

Dr Sibold said:

“It’s scary and frustrating that exercise isn’t more ubiquitous and that we don’t encourage it more in schools.
Instead, some kids are put on medication and told ‘good luck.’
If exercise reduces sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts, then why in the world are we cutting physical education programs and making it harder for students to make athletic teams at such a critical age?”

The research was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Sibold et al., 2015).
source: PsyBlog



August 19, 2014     By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director

If you’re busily stressing out about getting your kids ready and scheduled for the impending school year, stop. Researchers orders! A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified a surprising environmental toxin that can damage developing brains and have lifetime effects on mental functioning.

The culprit? Stress.

Researchers found that children exposed to chronic stress had smaller amygdalae and hippocampuses. Huh? These are areas of the brain involved in learning, memory, and the processing of emotions. These changes could negatively impact future behavior, health, and even things like employment and relationships. Not what any parent wants.

This study is the most recent in a growing body of research suggesting parents add stress to the list of unhealthy environmental influences to protect children from. Don’t neglect lead paint, BPA, and phthalates. Just add on childhood stress, which scientists say can physically damage the body and has been linked to many of the same conditions typically blamed on chemical exposures, like cancer, diabetes, mental dysfunction, and immune disorders.

A study published this summer by the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, discovered that children born to mothers who experienced stress during pregnancy may be a greater risk of developing allergies and asthma. In March, researchers at the University of Florida presented evidence demonstrating that kids who experience three or more stressful events are six times more likely to suffer from a mental, physical or learning disorder.

girl with paint

These studies show that children often feel more stressed out than their parents perceive them as being. And back-to-school season is surely a trigger. Why? Just check out these key sources of childhood stress:

  • being over-scheduled
  • fear of failure
  • unclear or unreasonable academic expectations
  • pressure to perform beyond one’s abilities
  • changing school situations
  • unstructured classroom settings
  • excessive screen time
  • exposure to on-screen violence

Here’s what parents can do to protect their kids from stress as the school year begins—beyond having a safe, consistent, and reliable home life. (Bonus: the following will help mom and dad de-stress, too. More down time means less carpooling, need we say more?)

  • limit over-scheduling—that means afterschool activities, parents!
  • make sure children have plenty of free “down” time
  • monitor TV viewing, web sites, and computer games
  • encourage physical activity, a good diet, and adequate rest
  • encourage your child to express concerns, fears, and to ask questions
  • give your child opportunities to make choices, exercising control of their life
  • build up your child’s feelings of self-worth with encouragement and affection
  • involve your kids in situations and activities in which they can succeed
  • provide plenty of exposure to nature; a whole other body of research is showing that being outside helps combat stress

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By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director    August 5, 2014

August. Time for that familiar emotional push-pull. It’s so sad, where did the time go, how is summer over already? But also: cannot-wait-to-get-back-to-a-routine, how exciting, another year! With these back-to-school emotions come a whole host of concerns. While we can’t help you navigate a new teacher, we can help make this school year less toxic. Here are ten ways to make sure your family’s return to the classroom is as safe as can be.

1. Flunk out PVC. School items—from backpacks and binders to lunchboxes and rain gear—can be made from polyvinyl chloride aka PVC (plastic type #3), which can expose children to endocrine-disrupting phthalates. A 2012 study found that 75% of tested back-to-school items had elevated levels of these dangerous chemicals. Vinyl can also contain lead.
The solution? Buy only PVC-free products.

2. Load book bags carefully. PVC isn’t the only place phthalates hide. Markers can also contain them, and both markers and glues can also contain unhealthy solvents to help them dry.
The solution? Choose water-based varieties to keep these hazards away.

3. Take the smell test. Increasing numbers of school products from pens and pencils to erasers and bookmarks are scented. Synthetic fragrances typically use phthalates in their formulas.
The solution? Unscented products won’t interfere with your child’s hormones. Seek them out.

4. Brown-bag a better bottle. Reusable bottles are the best. But polycarbonate plastic (type #7) water bottles frequently pollute beverages with a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA), another powerful endocrine disruptor.

The solution? Look for BPA-free bottles but beware—many aren’t any safer. Stainless steel is best.

5. Stay cool at lunch. A 2011 University of Texas study of school lunches found that 98% of the food kids brought to school had warmed to dangerous temperatures by the time it was eaten.

The solution? Use freezer packs to keep midday meals chilled. Or freeze that reusable bottle, making sure to leave enough room for the water to expand.

girl with paint

6. Establish a dress code. Recent tests on brand-name children’s clothing and footwear found that many items exposed kids to toxins like phthalates, nonylphenol ethoxylates, perfluorochemicals, and hazardous metals.

The solution? Choose clothes without stain-resistant, waterproof, or odor-fighting properties, polyester, or raised plastic screen-printing. Avoid rubber-like footwear, a key source of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

7. Ask your school to expel idling buses. Idling diesel buses waste fuel and flood the air with lung-damaging particulate pollution and carcinogenic exhaust, which enters the school every time a door or window opens.

The solution? Work with the administration and the PTA to establish a no idle zone.

8. Put air quality on the syllabus. According to the EPA, half of America’s schools have poor indoor air that can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, coughing, nausea, chronic fatigue, concentration problems, and allergies.

The solution? Ask if your child’s classroom has frequent fresh air exchanges either through windows or a well-maintained central air system. If not, see what can be done.

9. Clean it green. Conventional cleaning products fill classroom air with toxins and leave unhealthy residues behind.

The solution? Work with the PTA to ask your school to clean with biodegradable cleaners made from natural ingredients instead. And request that no antibacterial products be used—the triclosan they commonly contain is linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and more.

10. Join—or create—a green team. Parents and teachers need a dedicated way to talk to each other about protecting children’s health and learning abilities via safer practices in areas like pest control, art supplies, and playground materials.

The solution? To find out where to start, read our free e-book, Easy Steps to Healthy Schools and Daycares.