Physical activity on the brain - To what extent does...

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Unformatted text preview: To what extent does physical movement/ activity benefit brain development? Physical movement is known to benefit the body through weight loss and muscle gain. Despite the apparent improvements physical activity provides, it also betters the human brain by changing the structure at a molecular level (Source 2). The human brain is a complex mass of tissue that contains neurons, nerve fibers, and nerve cells. The fundamental job of the brain is to serve as command center for the rest of the body by sending and receiving signals from muscles and organs. (Source 14) An increase in blood flow, respectively from physical activity, not only improves cardiovascular health but also stimulates the growth of neurons and glucose metabolism which enriches cognitive performance as a result of blood pumping to the brain. There are a multitude of neurobiological effects of physical exercise that encourage growth within the brain which ultimately enhances cognitive control and working memory (Source 13). Exercise affects the development of the brain through the increase in neuro-­transmitters which assure the application of areas of brain use like memory, learning, and analysis.The brain and human body are interconnected, if exercise keeps the body healthy, then the brain is also maintained. The human brain is responsible for everyday functions.Heidi Godman, in a Harvard health letter, introduces readers into the basic benefits of physical activity and how it intertwines with the brain in ways to preserve memory and learning. Godman is a medical reporter and journalism fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. Her acclaimed medical reporting supports her view of the effects of exercise on the brain. As a result, she instills the idea that “regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart/ sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning”(Source 6).The hippocampus is a component of the brain responsible for consolidating information for memory as well as cognitive learning.​ ​Godman references research from Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School to support her claim. According to McGinnis, “regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions”(Source 6). Approved by both specialists, the concept of brain development resulting from exercise is confirmed through research done by many professionals and scientists. According to a study conducted by Salk Institute for Biological Studies, exercise is capable of making the brain stronger by generating new neurons for the brain to grow. This non profit research institution executed an experiment based on the Morris water maze which is fixed for mice and other rodents. This water filled maze is a test to assess the neurological behaviors of rodents based on memory and cognitive abilities. In this procedure, rodents rely on cues to find platforms to escape submerging into the pool of water. The conclusion of the research was that the mice who had exercised on running wheels before the maze succeeded meanwhile those who did not perform any physical activity prior to the procedure struggled to find the platforms. Afterwards, Neuroscientist Fred H. Gage and his co-­workers “injected the mice with chemical compounds that incorporates itself into actively dividing cells. The autopsy showed that mice were creating fresh neurons through regeneration” (Source 10). This was “vivid proof of neurogenesis” and the mice that exercised more regenerated more neurons. (Source 10) The underlying question was whether or not this result will occur in human brains so Gage and his fellow colleagues used brain tissue from deceased cancer patients and injected the same chemical used on the mice. The conclusions showed the process of neurogenesis and proves that “exercise speeds the process”. According to Gretchen Reynolds, the writer of the New York Times article and a health/fitness reporter, exercise results in “blood flow at a much higher volume which is responsible for neurogenesis. The blood pumping into the hippocampus was helping produce fresh neurons”. Shrinkage of this part of the brain is inevitable as a result of aging but according to a Columbia University study, “shrinkage to parts of the hippocampus can be slowed via exercise” (Source 10).These research studies all view memory/ cognitive skills from a scientific lens and regard their conclusions and claims with thorough and accurate data. Exercise is a general term so to narrow it down, aerobic exercise is more likely to boost the brain. In a human inquiry by scientists at the University of British Columbia, women ages 70-­80 were selected based on their cognitive impairments which is mostly memory loss or memory disassociation. The different aspects of exercise like weight training, toning and walking/running received different results. These different applications of the human body result in different effects. Meanwhile, the women in the study who toned did not do as well as women who lifted weights or walked. The scientist at the University of British Columbia received that the elderly women who performed walking and endurance training received “improvements in different types of memory and showed greater gains in verbal memory”(Source 12). Ultimately, exercises that requires the heart to pump blood throughout the body and oxygen to the brain are ones that incite brain development. Physical activity causes the human brain to increase oxygen flow which directly increases neurons and survival of brain components. Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant, combines all aspects of what improves brain function and brings into question whether or not learning is impeded when it is designed in unstable indoor locations. Medina stated, “The human brain appears to have been designed to solve problems related to surviving in an outdoor setting. Designing a learning environment is an opposition to what the brain is naturally good at doing (Source 4). His widely recognized book called “Brain Rules” uncovers details about the human brain that are important to remember. According to John Medina’s rule number one, exercise is “cognitive candy”, meaning the effects of physical activity appear in both in an educational environment and a professional environment (Source 5). Medina emphasizes how the “increase blood flow to tissues made possible through regular exercise improves problem solving abilities, fluid intelligence, even memory”(Source 8). Medina also views exercise from an educational lens by recommending instructors to encourage exercise within a classroom environment. Small exercises that increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain can maintain a healthy and more alert brain. Contrary to the concepts and beliefs held by many health specialists, many schools are cutting Physical Education classes because of economic conditions and increasing educational demands. It is believed that by removing physical education from a students day, it would give enough time for educational learning which would lead to better test scores. This fallacious claim is not supported with any argument but just a blatant statement that would something will happen just because another event occurred. Howell Wechsler, ​director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health for the ​Centers for Disease Control and Prevention​, counters the above claim by stating that the individuals are “shortsighted” (Source 9). To add to Wechsler’s stance, in an article written by Patrick T. Randolph, stated “Learning and memory evolved in concert with the motor functions that allowed our ancestors to track down food, so as far as our brains are concerned, if we’re not moving, there’s no real need to learn anything” (Source 9). This statement adds to the overall idea that students need exercise to access a learning process that is currently being hindered by the removal of Physical Education classes. Wechsler examines the scientific benefits of an exercise class in a school environment as well as assesses certain school’s financial circumstances. ​"Recess and in-­class physical activity breaks are not costly, and a number of schools have found ways to adjust their schedules so they can offer more time for physical education," stated by Wechsler (Source 1). Money is not an issue because there are always alternatives to promote healthy living and learning. ​Through this, Wechsler is able to provide a new perspective towards exercise and its benefit on the brains of students. The ​Center for Disease Control, a government organization provides information on ​the positive association of physical education on academic performance is great and the percentages are greater than that of a negative association (SOURCE 11). Since the government regulates its citizens, The Center for Disease Control has the authority to make a claim and have fellow citizens follow its procedures. So by stating the correlation, it is expected for schools to implement physical education programs to increase health of the students body and mind. Conclusively, exercise is a much needed class for students to not only maintain the body in a healthy way but also to kickstart the brain for the learning process to take place. Exercise does not have to contain mundane activities like just running or weight training exercises, but also includes dancing which can play an important role in boosting cognitive skills and memory. Christopher Bergland stated “Through regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week anyone can maximize his or her brain function.” A study done by Imperial College London reported on “specific differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes” (Source 3). In the article titled ​The Neuroanatomical Correlates of Training-­Related Perceptuo-­Reflex Uncoupling in Dancers, “​suggests that years of training can enable dancers to suppress signals from the balance organs in the inner ear linked to the cerebellum” (Source 3). For this study, the researchers at Imperial College London selected female ballet dancers as well as female rowers to see which group of individuals were able to spin around in chair while occupying a room with no lights. They had to turn a handle to see when they felt the spinning stopped. The ballet dancers were able to accurately know when the spinning stopped but the rowers were delayed in turning the handle. Afterwards MRI scans were constructed on the individuals to analyze the brain membrane and how it affects an individual’s self-­motion perception. “In summary, dancers display vestibular perceptuo-­reflex dissociation with the neuroanatomical correlate localized to the vestibular cerebellum” (Source 3 ) which can show how certain types of exercises can affect an individual's brain signals. This is a positive aspect because the superfluidity of individuals who suppress a certain part of their brain face less dizziness which is in the case of ballerinas who incessantly practice pirouettes to the point where their brain suppress certain inputs that tell them that their brain is undergoing high amounts motion. So they ultimately do not undergo vertigo after the motion.Bergland even confirmed that dancing was a main factor in this development within the brain (Source 3). A conclusion of this study shows that dance, a physical movement, is able to suppress the brain in feeling a sense of dizziness which ultimately causes the organ to become desensitized to the constant movement. As a result of many studies and years of research done by molecular biologists, neurologists and even fitness experts, there is a direct link between an increase in physical activity and brain development. Currently, people ignore the benefits of exercise and its importance in our lives. As a result of modernization, lifestyles are different from that of ancestors. Humans built classroom settings and cubicles where individuals sit around all day. Individuals live this inactive and idle lifestyle only to allow their brains deteriorate through time. Change is needed to assess not only the physical effects of a sedentary lifestyle but also how it affects the brain, an important organ in the human body. Humans need exercise to not only better the body but also the brain. The brain is vital organ that serves an important purpose of transmitting signals and performing basic tasks like memory, thinking, and even speaking. Our brains thrive from constant motion. (Source 2) To execute these elemental functions to their utmost ability, exercise helps in expanding the brain to foster learning and development. Bibliography 1) "Study: Physical Activity Can Boost Student Performance." ​Study: Physical Activity Can Boost Student Performance​. 14 Apr. 2010. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 2) Medina, John. "Exercise | Brain Rules |." ​Exercise | Brain Rules |​. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 3) Bergland, Christopher. "Why Is Dancing So Good for Your Brain?" ​Psychology Today​. 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 4) Blaydes, Jean, and Debby Mitchell. "Learning Through Movement and Music: How Exercise Benefits the Brain." ​Human-­kinetics​. 2000. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 5) Bogges, Laura. "Book Review: Brain Rules by John Medina." ​Book Review: Brain Rules by John Medina​. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 6) Godman, Heidi. "Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills -­ Harvard Health Blog." ​Harvard Health Blog RSS​. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 7) Mortees, CV, and MT Williams. "Result Filters." ​National Center for Biotechnology Information​. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2006. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 8) "Physical Activity Is Cognitive Candy." ​Method Leadership​. 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 9) Randolph, Patrick. "The Magic of Movement: Exercise's Phenomenal Impact on the Language Learner's Brain." ​ITBE LINK​. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 10) Reynolds, Gretchen. "Lobes of Steel." ​The New York Times​. The New York Times, 18 Aug. 2007. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 11) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The association between school based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;; 2010. 12) Reynolds, Gretchen. "Getting a Brain Boost Through Exercise." ​Well Getting a Brain Boost Through Exercise Comments​. 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. 13) Smith, AM. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. 14) "Brain." InnerBody. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. ...
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  • Fall '13
  • Mitchell
  • U.S.  Department  of  Health  and  Human  Services, University  of  British  Columbia, physical  activity

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