Discussing a Seminar or Webinar
In the session about ‘Moving Kids Towards Success: School policies that support active attentive students’ the professionals involved wanted to look at and evaluate the importance of physical activity in school settings and ideas to get kids moving throughout the school day. Making more time for being active in school will help meet the 60 minutes per day requirement to combat childhood obesity and chronic diseases. Mainly Type 2 Diabetes. A statistic that truly stood out to me was the in 2030 it is anticipated that there will be a 50% reduction in the amount of physical activity engagement when compared to 1965.
It is important to keep in mind that when these experts were trying to implement models they made a point to mention the most important confounding factors that need to be taken into consideration. These factors outlined were: education, income, politics, the natural environment (weather, rural/mountainous areas) and the built environment (access to physical activity resources, street connectivity and traffic calming measures.) One of the first approaches that was mentioned by Dr. Gamble was the whole-of-school approach which is all about being hands on, it expects all leaders within the school to have a responsibility and opportunity to try to impact the lives of young people in schools. More specifically, under the whole-of-school umbrella comes the Model of Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, which has been gaining momentum in the recent past. This program identifies five points during the school day where the number of opportunities for children to be active that can be increased. Some suggestions to increase these times of physical activity that I found to be very interesting and successful were to get families involved and do open gym times in the evening. Involving families in the children’s increase of physical activity time seems to me to be very applicable and realistic. This adds more support systems to the child’s active life when school and home life become connected as well. One study done on this model to see how many of the five components teachers actually use in the school setting found that those who are using at least three of five had the most hours of professional development. This shows that teachers who are trained and compared are very capable of implementing programs such as this.
One of the more interesting sections of this talk (to me) was the section discussing the implementation of ‘brain breaks.’ Teachers can take these small breaks and incorporate physical activity in them. It was also shown that these breaks increase on-task behaviors and benefit memory. I know I wish my school had breaks like this during classes when I was in elementary school! I feel as though it is not way out there to estimate that more children would pay attention during a lesson if they knew afterwards they got 2 minutes to do jumping jacks or lunges.
Contrasting a Scientific Article with Media Coverage
Call all the aged 70+ people you know right now and tell them ‘Design and Trend’ (obviously a very reputable scientific source) says exercise is not worth their time.
According to the first few sentences of the source, a “new study found that men and women who were older than 70 years of age tended to show no benefit from exercise”. They then go on to (wrongly) explain the study, which actually focuses on changes in vascular plasticity in the hippocampus after aerobic exercise, and not overall benefits of exercise in older adults.
‘Design and Trend’ reports later in their post that in the study, after the 3 month exercise protocol, subjects under 70 found it easier to memorize images than at the beginning of the training program, but subjects over 70 did not experience these same benefits. They did not mention or elude to vascular plasticity at all.
The real study, published two weeks ago in Molecular Psychiatry, is titled, ‘Vascular hippocampal plasticity after aerobic exercise in older adults’. This study took 60-77 year old adults though a 3 month walking protocol, in order to determine fitness-related changes in hippocampal vascular plasticity and perfusion. The hippocampus is the region associated with recall and recognition memory, and changes in perfusion and volume to this area, along with changes in level of fitness, were positively related to changes in recognition memory in this study.
It is true that the older adults in this study had slightly different outcomes, in that there tended to be more perfusion in the youngest subjects, and less perfusion in the oldest subjects. But overall, these findings indicate a preserved capacity of the aging human hippocampus for memory-beneficial vascular plasticity with exercise, which does decrease slightly with progressing age.
We know that there are countless benefits for older adults who exercise: bone density changes, decreased blood glucose, decreased blood pressure, improved mobility/quality of life, weight loss/body composition changes, etc. The fact that this website titled their article to imply the opposite is irresponsible journalism.
‘Design and Trend’ has an entire ‘Science’ section.