Kinesiology and Mental Health: The Promise of Exercise Neuroscience Research for Diseases and Disorders of the Brain

in Kinesiology Review

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Bradley D. Hatfield
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The relevance of kinesiology to the major issues of public health facing the nation is increasing with time. Of great importance is the area of exercise neuroscience in which remarkable developments have occurred in the past 35 years. The primary investigative efforts to date have been devoted to the impact of exercise on normal brain aging and recent efforts have also focused on the neurocognitive benefit to brain development in children. However, little work has been conducted in those with neurological disorders. The literature includes a number of animal studies that offer biological plausibility for the positive influence of exercise observed on brain structure and cognition in normal human subjects and, collectively, these studies provide a foundation on which to examine the role of exercise treatment in some of the major brain disorders that afflict adults and children today. These include the dementias, stroke, traumatic brain disorder (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attentional deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A role for exercise in building resilience to such disorders is discussed here that may assist in reducing the financial and emotional burden of these affictions.

The author (NAK Fellow #452) is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

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