Over the last few weeks, I have come across quite a few different articles promoting physical fitness to increase the brain, and decided to look into this a little bit more. Sure, working out will make you feel better about yourself, look better, and maybe even boost your confidence, but does it really make the brain more “fit?”
Exercise benefits the brain in a number of ways. One of the main examples of this is that it increases the heart rate, which in turn pumps more oxygen to the brain. Physical activity also releases hormones which “participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.” USNews.com recently posted an article in which a team, led by Laura Chaddock-Heyman researched this exact subject. “We know from previous work that higher fit children outperform lower fit children on tasks of attention, memory and school performance,” Chaddock-Heyman says. “Thus, it is possible that white matter structure is another pathway by which fitness relates to improved cognition.”
Physical fitness, to promote a healthier brain, is now making its way around the world. In Iowa, gym students will now be required to wear a heart rate monitor in order to pass the class. Livermore Elementary School has also implemented a special fitness element into their classrooms in the form of desk cycles. Children will be able to cycle, at their leisure, as they sit at their desks. The desk cycles keep track of distance and calories burned. Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn and retain new information. An added tidbit of information for you, Studies show just one hour’s exercise a week can reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half, according to a landmark study which ranks the seven lifestyle threats fuelling rising levels of dementia. Although the brain is an organ, it’s safe to think of it as a muscle. Use It or Lose It!