Our increasingly inactive lifestyle is detrimental to physical and cognitive health. This review focuses on the beneficial relation of physical activity and aerobic fitness to the brain and cognitive health in a youth and elderly population to highlight the need to change this pattern. In children, increased physical activity and higher levels of aerobic fitness have been associated with superior academic achievement and cognitive processes. Differences in brain volumes and brain function of higher-fit and lower-fit peers are potential mechanisms underlying the performance differences in cognitive challenges. We hope that this research will encourage modifications in educational policies that will increase physical activity during the school day. In addition, older adults who participate in physical activity show higher performance on a variety of cognitive tasks, coupled with less risk of cognitive impairment. The cognitive enhancements are in part driven by less age-related brain tissue loss and increases in the efficiency of brain function. Given the increasing aging population and threat of dementia, research about the plasticity of the elderly active brain has important public health implications. Collectively, the data support that participation in physical activity could enhance daily functioning, learning, achievement, and brain health in children and the elderly.
Laura Chaddock, Michelle W. Voss, and Arthur F. Kramer
Noah Rosenblatt and Mark D. Grabiner
The expected rise in the number of older adults in the coming decades may exacerbate the social, medical and economic problems posed by falls and fall-related injuries. In part, the growing urgency for effective solutions refects the apparently constant average annual rate of falls by older adults over the past 30 years. Exercise by older adults can significantly reduce fall risk. However, the extent to which it does so raises the question as to whether its effectiveness can be increased. Results from recent studies support the view that avoiding a fall following a large postural disturbance is a complex motor skill that can be significantly improved by practice and thereby reducing fall risk. This reduction in fall risk appears to exceed that achieved by previously reported interventions. The principles on which the associated training protocol is based fall clearly within the discipline of kinesiology.
Douglas Anderson's article about the demise of play in American culture challenges us at both personal and professional levels. It raises the possibility that play is on the wane for us personally, our own children, and our students. It suggests that we have turned our professional backs on play and allowed our play curricula to languish or disappear altogether. In this reaction paper, I affirm Anderson's thesis about the current status of play. I discuss play metaphorically as a dance between the player (the dancer) and the playground (the dancer's partner). I describe this as a fragile relationship, one that needs to be cultivated if it is to endure. I suggest that we kinesiologists have not been good supporters of the dance because of tacit or explicit commitments we have made about knowledge, value, and culture. I claim that unless and until we resolve these issues, we will continue to push physical play off the pedagogical stages at our colleges and universities.
Hal A. Lawson
As new designs are advanced for industrial age schools and universities, including cradle-to-career systems that connect them, needs and opportunities grow for kinesiology, school physical education programs, and community exercise and sport programs for young people to be redesigned in accordance with 21st century realities. While augmenting its technical problem solving capacities, kinesiology must wrestle with two new problem types. They compel new designs for kinesiology, including new relations among the subdisciplines, outcomes-focused interdisciplinary work, and expanded knowledge systems. This work entails different speci-fcations for school and community programs, and it also necessitates policy and systems changes. Design-oriented language, knowledge frameworks, and planning templates are needed, and so is intervention science. Disciplinary stewards, guided by Francis Bacon's ideals for science, can help realize America's promise to young people by developing synchronized designs for university, school, and community programs, leading to improved outcomes.
Waneen W. Spirduso
Michael Skipper and Leslie A. Meehan
Active transportation refers to modes of travel that incorporate physical activity as part of the trip. Examples include walking and bicycling, as well as transit, since walking or bicycling is typically required for transit station access and egress. The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has recently restructured its regional transportation policies and programming priorities as part of the development of the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan to enable more active transportation by encouraging the implementation of infrastructure such as sidewalks, bikeways, and transit. The result is a significant increase in the number of federally-funded transportation projects in the greater Nashville region that provide opportunities for active transportation trips.