So all the more reason to do sports and exercise. But many teens do the opposite; they give up sports by the time they are going into VIth Form and more girls than boys do so. Some stats say that 30% of 16-19 years old girls stop doing sports versus only 10% of boys. But with the pressures of study, exams and university applications, there is great demand on the teen body and brain in this period and keeping exercise going is so important. Not only because it helps teens setting habits for life, but also, new research shows, in keeping braincells healthy and growing.
Studies have shown that exercise benefits us more than physically and mentally alone. The oxygen that is pumped to the brain aids release of hormones, which provide “an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells.” Exercise promotes neurogenesis, aka the growth of new braincells, which is essential to improving cognitive functions and boosting memory (hippocampus) as well as sharpening up executive functions (pre-frontal cortex), such as clarity, concentration and decisiveness. Exercise – any exercise, even walking - improves the health and function of the synapses between neurons, allowing them to communicate better, which - in addition - is claimed to help creativity.
That regular exercise provides a long list of benefits must be clear to all who do it. But that it supports overall brain health and stimulates the growth of brain cells, is not widely known. Would teens give up sports knowing that it is so beneficial for the brain too? Most teens seem to give up sports because (of a combination of) their studies in VIth Form are becoming much more demanding, their lifestyles are changing (more going out) or, simply, because they think doing sports is not cool.