Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why Exercise ?

Do you believe that exercise can enhance learning? If so, then exercise should play a significant part of the school curriculum. When I attended elementary, junior high and secondary school, physical education was included and was a significant part in the curriculum. For instance, in elementary school, special classes, which included physical education, music, art, science, etc. were held in either the morning or afternoon while the 3Rs were taught in homeroom separate from the other part of the school day. From what I’ve heard, that is no longer the arrangement in schools. A recent article in the July 31, 2016 New York Times titled Muscle Mnemonics received my attention. Researchers at Radboud University and the University of Edinburgh hypothesized that there is a relationship between learning and remembering new material and exercise. Briefly, 72 healthy adult men and women were tested on a visual and spatial learning task [Observed pictures on a computer screen and then asked to remember their locations]. That test was followed by having them watch nature documentaries. Immediately after this test, 48 of these men and women subjects then participated in interval training on exercise bicycles for 35 minutes. The remaining 24 subjects did the same exercise work out, but only 4 hours after the visual and spatial learning test. Two days later, all the subjects repeated the original test while an MRI machine scanned their brains for activity. Which group learned and recalled the most coupled with an increase or a more consistent release of a biochemical [biochemical related to mental function]? Those of you [my wife and friend Tony were asked the question too] that predicted exercising immediately after the test were incorrect [Unless you are a rodent]. The winner were those that predicted exercising, 4 hours after the test. These subjects learned and remembered more. Experimenters admitted, at this point, “we don’t know why?” Could it be, the Detroit Public Schools knew about the relationship between exercise, memory and learning back in my day? They separated the time between reading, writing and arithmetic from playing baseball, basketball, volleyball and track. Why not learn something, have lunch with friends and then perform physical exercise. Often, for me, many of my ideas seem to generate and become clarified while trail running. Putting my ideas to paper become clearer. I recommend that those that want to learn and remember, incorporate exercise in your daily life, even if it’s not four hours later. No one can argue that learning and memory are not good for your soul. The more we learn and remember, the healthier we are. Just ask an old folk.

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