How Exercise Impacts Brain Development in Teenagers

How Exercise Impacts Brain Development in Teenagers

Staying active is important for people of all ages, but fitness may have an even greater impact on developing teenagers.

A new study from the University of Eastern Finland found that physical fitness levels during young is associated with cerebellar grey matter volume in adolescents.

Neuroscience News summarized the study’s findings, writing:

Those adolescents with better neuromuscular fitness since childhood had larger Crus I grey matter volume. However, adolescents with better cardiorespiratory fitness had smaller total cerebellar grey matter volume.

Moreover, males with better neuromuscular fitness since childhood had smaller Crus II grey matter volume. …

The findings are from the FitBrain study, which included 40 participants from the 8-year follow-up examinations of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study. Of the participants, 22 were female and 18 were male, and their mean age was 17.9 years.

Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed by maximal ramp test on a cycle ergometer, muscular strength with standing long jump, speed-agility with the 10 x 5 m shuttle-run test, coordination with the Box and Block Test and neuromuscular fitness as the sum of standing long jump, Box and Block Test and shuttle-run test z-scores. Cerebellar volumes were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging.

Speaking about the study, researchers noted the need for teens and tweens to stay active.

“Our study highlights the importance of physical activity through childhood and adolescence, leading to better physical fitness, as it might be relevant to cerebellar volumes related to cognition and learning,” said Researcher Petri Jalanko from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä.

“The study sheds light on the associations between physical fitness and the cerebellum,” Jalanko added. “Future randomized controlled trials utilizing direct cardiorespiratory fitness measurements and novel brain imaging to assess a larger population and both sexes separately are needed to better understand the associations and causality between physical fitness and cerebellar volumes in adolescents.”


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