We know exercise is great for children's growing bodies, but how much do we know about all the other benefits? “When I think about exercise, I actually go to the mental health benefits, first,” says Dr. Shelly Flais, mother of four, national AAP spokesperson, assistant

professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University School of Medicine and author of several parenting books including “Raising Twins.” That’s right, active playtime is great for kids’ brains, and so much more. 

Exercise is even more beneficial if it happens outdoors — yes, even in the dead of winter. Flais tells her teenage patients, “You gotta have some outdoor movement every day just to kind of keep your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock, appropriate.” Outdoor exercise helps us reset the brain, she says.


  • Exercise improves children and teens’ memory and processing speed (as it does for adults). 
  • Intense physical exercise is especially helpful for children and teens with ADHD symptoms. 
  • Exercise helps your brain change and adapt in response to experiences for people of all ages. 
  • Exercise helps kids improve their executive functioning (your ability to plan, control your behavior and use your memory), and that’s especially true for kids who have difficulty with that. 
  • Exercise helps kids get the most out of school.
  • Exercise helps kids sleep better.
  • Exercise reduces depression, anxiety and substance use.
  • Sedentary kids are at higher risk for alcohol and drug use.
  • Exercise resets moods.
  • Exercise builds confidence.
  • Exercise is especially important for children with special needs such as chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions. 
  • Children with autism spectrum disorder show less challenging behavior and are more engaged in schoolwork after they’ve exercised.
  • Physical activity decreases pulmonary infection and improves muscle weight gain for children with cystic fibrosis. 
  • Young survivors of cancer are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, but an exercise program can decrease that risk. 
  • Kids with congenital heart disease can benefit from the right kinds of well-supervised physical activities.

Physical activity helps build more of the kind of lean muscle mass that supports joints and improves kids’ metabolism. This puts them at lower risk for diabetes. 

And while body fat in general isn’t necessarily harmful for young people, abdominal fat specifically has been linked with cardiovascular disease and other health issues; combined with healthy food choices, getting a variety of exercise can help reduce that harmful abdominal fat.

  • A physically active child is a healthy child.
  • Physical activity strengthens a child’s muscles and bones, prevents excessive weight gain, and reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer, and other conditions.
  • Physical activity is beneficial to the mental health of a child.
  • Experts say physical activity allows children to have a better outlook on life by building confidence, managing anxiety and depression, and increasing self-esteem and cognitive skills.
  • “Exercise also releases endorphins, which correlates to a happy child,” said Len Saunders, physical health educator, and author of “Keeping Kids Fit” and “Buddy and Bea.”
  • Exercise improves balance.
  • Exercise prevents future pain. 
  • Exercise boosts children’s immune systems.  
  • Exercise helps children develop physical literacy.

PLEASE NOTE: All Registered Participant can attend the workout sessions for $25. The $25 covers the Registered Participant and one child. The cost per session for Non-Registered Participants is $30 for Adults and $20 for Children. If you would like to invite someone to accompany you at your session, please feel free to do so. On the initial visit a $30 fee per Adult and $20 per Child will be required. If the adult becomes a Registered Participant after the initial visit all sessions from then on will be $25, which covers the Registered Participant and the child. If the adult or child does not become a Registered Participant the Non-Registered Participant fee remains in effect.

*Locations, Dates, and Times of sessions are subject to change at the discretion of the Brutal Fitness Challenge. Teams have first priority on all sessions.