Thought of the Week for September 27th – How the Brain is Affected by Exercise

Submitted by Sensei Neff, Yon-Dan – Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo

Onegai shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei and fellow Deshi, 

I have been involved with a NYC public school program called “Move To Improve” (MTI) which encourages movement in the classroom. Part of the program includes the attached power point slide. It shows “the effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic achievement in preadolescent children.” I found the brain scan very interesting, but not a surprise.

Dr. Hillman, a neurocognitive researcher at the University of Illinois, provided the scan. His research examines the relationship between physical activity and neurocognitive function and the relationship between emotion and motivated behavior. Physical activity improves learning on three levels: “first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.” 

It is gratifying to see a mind/body connection that evokes such a great response simply from walking. We know as karate practitioners how we feel before vs. after a Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate class. I wonder what our brain scans would show after a class in which we perform many repetitions of kata? We know there is such a strong bond that is gained through what we do in our mind, body and spirit!!! 

Domo arigato gozaimasu, 

Sensei Neff, Yon-Dan

Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo

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