Physical Activity: The Brain’s Fuel

Contributed by JC Boushh

The human brain is a miraculous organ, and over the last two decades we have learned more about the brain than we have in the entire history of the human race. Advancements in brain imaging have allowed researchers to discover a vital link between brain health and physical activity. The effects of physical activity increase the brain’s ability to learn and make vital neural connections throughout our lifespan and especially during the brain’s formative years in childhood.

Vigorous physical activity affects the brain on a neurological level by triggering the release of (BDNF) brain-derived neurotrophic factor a protein that helps to support the growth of synapses. BDNF is triggered by learning and vigorous physical activity, and is suppressed during stress and is the growth factor that is not present in depression.

Physical activity also increases the blood flow to our brain and the amount of oxygen our brain receives. Recess activities that are designed to increase physical activity fuels children’s brains with oxygen and also feeds neurotripins that help increase the connections between the brains neurons and stimulate neuron growth. The benefits are better cognition, memory, and reduced areas of depression.

We are barely at the first chapter when it comes to learning how the brain truly works and develops, but the research as far back as the 1960’s demonstrate that physical activity is a key factor in forming vital neural connections and the overall health of the human brain.