Size Matters: How Physical Activity Enlarges our Brains

From early childhood, we emphasize the importance of brain development. We give puzzles to our toddlers, send our kids to kindergartens, and encourage our children to stay in school. The reason for this is obvious. We want to raise a generation of healthy, successful, intelligent individuals – for our sake, for their sake, and for the sake of the generations to follow.

According to recent studies there is another way to improve brain development: sports. This idea isn’t new, of course. We’ve known the value of physical activity and sports for a long time. There is no doubt about the benefits of physical activity to our well being.

Recently, researchers from the University of Granada – the Department of Physical Education and Sports (Faculty of Sport Sciences), the Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), and the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre (CIMCYC) – found another benefit of physical activity: higher levels of physical fitness go hand in hand with larger brains. More specifically, aerobic capacity, strength, and speed relate to the amounts of gray and white matter in the brain.

Why is this important?

Gray matter is a part of the brain related to muscle control, sensory perception, and self-control. It has also been linked to human intellect and intelligence. White matter affects learning among other brain functions, facilitates communication and connectivity with different regions in the brain, and promotes cognitive flexibility and executive function.

Simply put, these two matters matter for our brains.

Now, we begin to see the importance of the study. The lead researcher in the project, Francisco B. Ortega summarized it as follows: “Previous studies had shown that, during the ageing process, the brain shrinks and physical exercise and keeping fit can help mitigate this physiological process. Our study shows, for the first time, that in childhood, when the brain is growing and developing, maintaining good levels of physical fitness is linked to greater overall brain development.”

So what do we do with this information?

First, we need to encourage our children to pursue physical activity the same way we encourage them to pursue education. It’s a direct pathway to good physical and mental health.

Second, we need to find a way to keep children engaged in the physical activity. Here is where STL SOLUTIONS comes in. With a growing portfolio of products that use technology to make sports engaging, exciting, and on par with Gen Z expectations, we provide a solution to your children’s inactivity.

If this sounds interesting to you, check out the solutions and products on our website.