Exercise and Brain Function with Adults and Children

Heidi's getting it done with Kettlebell Swings

Heidi's getting it done with Kettlebell Swings

We have been told our whole lives, that living a healthy lifestyle requires some sort of physical activity along with making good nutrition choices. But, if you look at our society today we are becoming less active and more obese with every passing year. The American Heart Association reports the average child spends four to six hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games (this is even more for adults).

The Journal of Exercise Physiology looked at nearly 900,000 children 11-14. They tested them in six fitness areas along with math and reading. The results were astounding, the more fit the child the higher the test scores. An article done in the UK on children 11-12, who exercised three to four times a week achieved higher than average grades on their exams. This proves that Scholastic achievement is directly linked to higher functioning levels in the brain.

Acta Psychologica (2003) offer compelling evidence that exercise can facilitate cognitive functioning as well. The benefits of exercise reported included: brain changes associated with better performance on an attention taxing task; improved abstract reasoning in the higher mental processes of memory and “executive functions” involving planning and organization; the ability to multi-task more effectively.

Exercise also increases cerebral blood flow, which helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the brain cells at a higher rate. This increased blood flow can cause cerebral blood vessels to grow larger creating a healthier more efficient brain. Most importantly, exercise aids in the generation and retention of nerve cells and neural pathways.

Exercise positively effects the delivery of chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, to the brain. Neurotransmitters largely aid brain function by countering the negative effects of cognitive-suppressing conditions such as anxiety and depression. Exercise-induced delivery of neurotransmitters to the brain also provides the essential component of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) “Brain Fertilizer”. BDNF boosts the overall performance of the brain. It has also increases neurotransmitters to “lock-in” memories when they form.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “A strong body makes the mind strong” Brain function is positively impacted by exercise. So not only are you getting physically stronger so is your brain!

Today’s WOD:

Oct 22

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