Can Exercise Improve Brain Functions?

First of all I want to make the point I am not a scientist or doctor, I am an NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 2009.  Like all blogs, they are a mixture of fact and opinion.  With that being said, scientists can attribute positive effects of physical exercise on academic performance in youth and memory skills in senior citizens.  What has not been proven yet are any specific movements, i.e. push ups, squats, plyometrics, etc., that contribute to cognitive development.

In a study by the CDC called “The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance”, it highlighted that one or more positive correlations were found in 11 of 14 studies between physical education and  indicators of cognitive skills, academic achievement, and/or academic behavior.  In a study titled “Beneficial Effects of Physical Exercise on Neuroplasticity & Cognition”, the findings point to a slower rate of memory decline in people at the age of 53 who exercised twice-a-week between the ages of 36 to 43.  Additionally, Gray matter volume was larger for those individuals who exercised compared to those that did not.

What does all that mean in plain, simple American English?  Well, it means that beyond the physical benefits of exercise, the mental benefits are just as important. To properly engage the correct muscles when doing load bearing movements, you have to think about using those muscles.  Not only does thinking about using the correct muscles improve performance, but it also decreases the risk of injury.  Using the proper form, coordinating the movement of multiple muscle groups, and breathing at the right time through a movement all use brain power and concentration.  Combining all of these factors in a structured exercise program, it contributes to the positive results in memory the studies found.

The unfortunate reality is 1/3 of America is considered obese by the CDC and childhood obesity is also too high.  If heart disease, stroke, and diabetes risk factors don’t get you moving, maybe saving your brain will.  Learn To Move Academy can help your school’s PE program and assisted living facility with a web based custom program to boost your cognitive skills and maybe just help your physical conditioning.  Email Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com with any questions.  Check us out on Facebook also, just get moving!

 

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