Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#unplugandplay - The Benefits Of Being More Physically Active

Connected Learning: Playing, Creating, Making from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

A disclaimer: smart phones sometimes skew these entries into single letter lines. If so, try viewing through browser, rather than through the app. Thanks!

This is a great video to watch. I suggest you take a minute (or 7:10 :P) and look at it. Really listen to the message.

So, I covered various reasons for individuals having barriers to being healthier and more physically active. Click on the image below to check out that entry

As promised, a continuation to the #unplugandplay that has been mentioned several times over the last week or two. So, we all hear, "you need to get outside," or, "you need to watch less TV," or, "you need to play more!" However, the real questions is - why?

I don't like making off the cuff remarks or claims, so let's back these statements with some understanding and reasoning.

First, let's discuss what screen time does. Or, more specifically, too much screen time:
  • And to be clear, when we say screen time we are referring to using any device that uses a "monitor." This includes tablets, TVs, computer monitors, even smart phones. Essentially a device that produces artificial light using some form of diodes or projection - I'm pretty sure we all get this now :P
  • The American Psychiatric Association (APA) added "Internet Use Disorder" (IUD) to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM IV).
    • It's important to note that the APA doesn't add something to the DSM IV unless it has the potential to disrupt daily life and has neurological evidence to back up such claims.
    • In the case of screen time, it creates notable changes, or deficits, in brain chemistry. Dopamine addiction can be induced, and serious deficits later in life can be seen.
Now that we have gone over just some of the negative consequences, let's cover all (well a bunch, cause frankly they are infinite) the benefits of exercise. Please bear in mind, some of this can get very technical and "sciency" (yes, that's the technical term - sciency, or is it sciencey?). I will try to keep it very simple and straightforward, but please ask for clarification if there is anything you are uncertain of:
  • During exercise, which is a form of physical stress, the body produces a variety of neurotransmitters, which include brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and endorphins.
    • BDNF:
      • There is a correlation between BDNF and long term potentiation as well as neurogenesis
        • Long Term Potentiation:
          • This increases the signal strength between neurons that enhances when two neurons are fired at the same time. This is the same principle that applies when talking about positive/negative reinforcement, or punishment. A stimulus elicits a conditioned response - some Pavlov for those of you familiar with psychology.
          • This is one of the strongest factors in learning and the creation of memories.
        • Neurogenesis:
          • The evidence isn't quite as conclusive here, but it is strongly hypothesized that this has further role in memory development, as neurogenesis is the process by which brain cells or neurons are generated. Exercise increases the rate of this process.
    • Endorphins
      • These are our "feel good" opioides. They dull negative feelings, both physical and psychological.
  • Finally, exercise also reduces cortisol, a catabolic stress hormone (although necessary at times, but not in excess), and increases serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine (more feel good drugs :P).

That got a bit more technical than I had intended, but sometimes you got to bust out the science to truly make a point! BOOM - SCIENCED!