Biology: Why Exercise is Important for our Brain Development

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks exercise isn’t good for you. Sure, many people don’t enjoy exercise, but if we REALLY understood how good it was for body and mind, perhaps we would enjoy it a little more. Our students cover interesting discussions like this in their Middle Years Programme (MYP) sciences framework. These courses include introductory biology, chemistry and physics coursework and we encourage students to investigate issues through research, observation and experimentation. We love watching as students develop their curiosity through learning, and how learning more, leads to asking more questions. As we delve into the coursework with the students, we teach them to investigate real examples of biology application so they can see how it is not just classwork – it is real life. Biology is so much more than what we cover in the classroom. It's understanding HOW our bodies work and how the foods we eat, or the movements we do contribute to our overall health. It is particularly important for young children to understand the positive effects of regular exercise because our ever-growing dependency on technology means kids are less active than they used to be. Unfortunately, being inactive when they are young, sets children up for bad habits in the future. The research indicates that sedentary children are more likely to become sedentary adults. These bad habits expose them to the harmful effects of an inactive lifestyle which is why it's so important to instill good habits early. When you look further into the research about movement and exercise, it’s clear to see that regular exercise is a crucial element for reducing our risk of major illnesses. These include heart disease, diabetes, strokes or even cancer. It’s not just illnesses that exercise helps buffer us from. You can actually alter your mood, self-esteem and even your sleep quality with it.

Exercise Can Help Us Concentrate Children who are active actually have an easier time concentrating in class and may even improve their grades. The reason for this is because of what is happening in our body and brain while we are exercising. When we exercise, our heart rate goes up. This increases the flow of blood to our brains and beneficial proteins are released. With more blood flow comes more oxygen and nutrients. All this nourishment means our neurons (brain cells) are kept healthy and encouraged to develop and grow. Exercise Helps Boost our Mood Beneficial proteins are not the only thing that gets released during exercise. Our bodies also release feel-good endorphins thanks to the chemical dopamine. The outflow of the good chemicals in your brain can actually flush out the bad chemicals that cause stress and anxiety. This is why people who are more active are usually peppier and more excited about life than their inactive counterparts. Regular exercise is so helpful for kids because it helps them regulate their emotions and channel negative feelings, like anger and frustration into a more positive outlet. Exercise Can Help with Memory The research actually indicates that children who engage in regular exercise tend to score better results in reading and mathematics than their non-exercising peers. How on earth does that happen? Well, physical exercise is linked to long- and short-term memory improvement. This means students who are more active, may have an easier time remembering what they studied in and out of the classroom. Exercise Can Help with Sleep Quality Expending more energy during the day means that come bed-time, you are likely to be tired and ready for rest. When you lay your head on the pillow your body relaxes and regenerates, allowing you to get a great night’s sleep. A well-rested brain is likely to be more creative and alert. Exercise Can Help Improve Grades With all of the above-mentioned benefits of regular exercise, it’s clear to see how a healthy body and brain can lead to better results in the classroom. Our neurons remain nourished, our memories are improved, our sleep quality is improved which leads to an active and alert mind. Creating Healthy Habits Exercise is one of those things that doesn’t really have a down-side. Sure, you can exercise TOO much but that’s not what we are referring to here. Being active a few times a week whether it’s playing a sport, running around a park or even just having fun in the garden can be the difference between a bad mood and a GREAT one. It’s so important to cultivate healthy habits and not get stuck in bad ones like sitting in front of the television for hours or playing video games all weekend. Children of school-going age have developing brains that require constant nourishment. Those that develop healthy habits when they are younger, have a higher chance of maintaining those habits as they age.

Practical Application Biology can get technical which is why we offer IGCSE Biology Review Courses. In these group classes, we help students review important biological modules like living organisms, cell structure, movement of substances into and out of cells, nutrition, gas exchange in plants, photosynthesis, and so much more. As we work through the material, interesting discussions like this one comes up. If you feel you need some tutoring in Biology, join our monthly IGCSE Review Course Classmates Group Study. For more information email us at info@meeducationhk.com.

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"ME Education has helped immeasurably with the transition of my daughter coming from an overseas school to get her levels up to a Hong Kong standard. They have been very flexible in creating a suitable program that suits all involved, and the one-on-one training has been excellent! With special thanks to Mr Adeel, her biology assessment scores have been greatly improved!"

Mrs Chan

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