Fizzikal

PE Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland and beyond

Improves Brain Function: Just One of Many Claims We Hold Dear in PE

Posted by drilly on June 8, 2008

I recently read this article http://itsgoodtoyou.info/2008/06/08/physical-fitness-improves-brain-health/ which suggests findings that most PE teachers have held true for decades. Exercise and fitness has much wider benefits than weight management and physical health. The article states:

“It turns out that physical activity actually turns on hormonal support systems in your brain. The activation of these systems strengthens brain circuits that you already have and helps you develop new ones.

Exercise causes a rise in several growth factors in the brain that are responsible for helping brain cells survive and divide into new brain cells, or neurons. Only a couple of brain regions can produce new neurons and exercise increases the amount and rate of neuron production in these regions.

The hippocampus plays a critical role in learning, memory and attention. Exercise induces new neuron growth in the hippocampus and improves performance on several types of cognitive tasks.

Folks that exercise regularly know that they are much more capable of handling stress throughout their day than they are when they don’t exercise. This is, in part, because exercise and stress have opposite effects on the hippocampus and exercise improves your ‘buffer’ to handle the stress.

Studies also show that in addition to exercise’s protective role, it is a valuable therapeutic tool for brain function. Fitness training improves cognitive functions relative to planning, scheduling, task coordination and attention. ”                                                               Originally uploaded by http://itsgoodtoyou.info

I can relate to many of the ideas suggested in the article I know how great I feel after a doing some enjoyable physical activity and the release I get form a hard physical work out. I only wish the article sighted some of the research that it alludes to so I can confirm the veracity of the claims.

This also tends to be the problem with physical education we make a number of claims about the benefits of the subject  most of which are anecdotal and founded on our intuition, observation and belief that it is inherently good. However that is normally as far as it goes research is limited especially in Scotland. Some of us are impassioned about promoting our subject and feel we are having to fight to secure a significant proportion of time in schools curricula. However we have limited proof of the benefits other than the anecdotal. What we need is hard evidence to back up the claims we make about the benefits of PE.

A small minority of enlightened teachers have done or are starting to do some small scale research in their schools. Practitioner based research has the potential to be a powerful medium to inform our colleagues but would it have any standing with the Government or Local Authorities? I would be interested to hear from any colleagues who have or are undertaking any research relevant to PE in Scottish schools.

 

 

One Response to “Improves Brain Function: Just One of Many Claims We Hold Dear in PE”

  1. […] Improves Brain Function: Just One of Many Claims We Hold Dear in PE […]

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