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We live in a world that counts more "educational materials" than ever before, but are we forgetting the basics? Are we forgetting what impact physical activity could have on cognitive development?

You want to give Junior the best start in life, of course! That's why you purchased a pregnancy music belt and introduced him to Bach in the womb, why you decided to use Baby Einstein, and why you committed to chanting Latin declensions instead of singing nursery rhymes. By the time Junior was four years old, he was able to read fluently in three languages and was completing lap books about cell biology.

Your home, you made sure, was filled with every conceivable book right from the start, because you know that a two-decade long study proved that an "early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person's brain well into their late teens".

You also take your food very seriously and have stocked only organic since you weaned Junior when he was three. You know, though, that honey and peanut butter can be deadly, and you take care to avoid those and make everything from scratch rather than putting that processed poison into Junior's mouth. While caring deeply about Junior's academic achievements and shining future, you're also safety conscious.

You wouldn't want any chance of toxoplasmosis or anything like that, so you've kept your antiseptic hand wipes on hand from the time he was born, and also used a bicycle helmet whenever you went for walks in the park, just to prevent him from cracking his skull.

Have you been giving Junior the absolute best start in life, or are you doing something wrong? Could Junior be missing out?

Modern parenting is certainly fascinating. No previous generation has gone all-out to attain academic success for their special snowflakes to quite this extent, and no previous generation was this fragmented. Hot-housing is now normal, while allowing your kid to play in the park on his own at age 10 will have Child Protective Services knocking on your door in no time. Ironically, though, the things this generation of kids aren't growing up with any more might be precisely those things that most stimulate the brain.

It's time to bring back risk-taking, rough-housing, and muddy hands. Here's why.

Yes, Jumping Around, Crawling In The Mud, And Climbing Trees 'Grow' The Brain

Mouse studies astonishingly showed that the hippocampi of those mice that run about three miles on a running wheel daily are about twice the size of the hippocampi their sedentary counterparts possess. The hippocampus, of course, is a brain region that plays a key role in learning.

Could the same apply to humans?

Actually, yes. We know know that regular cardio exercise does such incredible things as promote the growth of brain cells, the development of new neurons, and brain plasticity while reducing the risk of memory loss. Kids who engage in lots of physical activity perform better at cognitive tasks, have larger hippocampi, and can concentrate better for longer.

You may have been thinking that sitting at home reading a book about quantum physics was the best choice for your kid, but, as it turns out, the story is more complex.

Your kid's running around, their tree climbing, and their jumping in muddy puddles, could be just as important for their academic success as reading daily.
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