Argumentative Essay on the Importance of Physical Education in Schools

Topics: Neuron, Exercise, Brain Pages: 7 (2093 words) Published: February 9, 2014

Argumentative Essay
As America attempts to better it’s elementary education system, they progressively eliminate the amount of time spent for physical education. They believe that this approach is necessary to vacate time in the day for more possible time in the classroom learning core subjects; such as math, English, reading, etc. This may seem like a productive way to better educate their pupils, but in fact they could be limiting their potential learning capacity by restricting their daily physical education. In children, daily physical activity leads to more productive brains. Elementary schools need to increase their requirements for physical education, because younger brains are more vulnerable to the positive effects of exercise on the brain which will lead to a stronger memory and better learning capabilities.

The brain is a very complex organ in the body, like every activity done throughout your day it is effecting your brain in some way. Exercise does no different. Exercise greatly has an impact on the processes occurring in the hippocampus region. As explained by Mary Carmichael in the newspaper article “Stronger, Faster, Smarter”, The process starts in the muscles. Every time a bicep or quad contracts and releases, it sends out chemicals, including a protein called IGF-1 that travels through the bloodstream, across the blood-brain barrier and into the brain itself. There, IGF-1 takes on the role of supervisor in the body's neurotransmitter factory. It issues orders to ramp up production of several chemicals, including one called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF (Carmichael).

The neurotransmitters, which are any substance responsible for sending nerve signals across a synapse between two neurons, in the body are serotonin and dopamine. With neurotransmission the neurons that are carrying the serotonin and endorphins must connect to a receptor in the brain and transport these chemicals to the brain. Serotonin is a chemical linked to many different moods. The lack of serotonin leads to depression and an abundance leads to a sense of happiness. Dopamine works in a similar manner. They are often associated with drugs, because when you use drugs this chemical is released into the brain. Similarly exercise releases this chemical, just not in an incredible amount. As quoted by Mary Carmichael from John Ratey’s book "Dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine--all of these are elevated after a bout of exercise, so having a workout will help with focus, calming down, impulsivity--it's like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin."

IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor, is a protein that effects growth. This is used in the brain to increase cell size in the brain. IGF-1 has been used to protect, repair, and plastically modulate the brain. The process involved with physical activity is beneficial because as the main source of IGF-1 is outside the brain. IGF-1 becomes an ideal factor to induce neuroprotective functions in the brain (Carmichael).

BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, acts on certain neurons of the central and the peripheral nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons, and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapse. In the brain, it is active in the hippocampus, cortex and basal forebrain, areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking (Carmichael). BDNF itself is important for long-term memory.

As explained by Louise Atkinson Neurogenesis is the creation and protection of brain cells. This is caused when BDNF is sent to the brain and it repairs and creates new cells within the hippocampus. She describes it as “Brain cells are connected to one another through 'leaves' on treelike branches. The BDNF works like Miracle-Gro for the brain, causing these branches to grow, so enhancing brain function” (Atkinson).

The functions of the hippocampus are explained by Michael Anissimov, a science/technology...

Cited: Anissomov, Michael. “What is The Hippocampus?”. Wisegeek.com. 6 Nov 2010.
Atkinson, Louise. "Forget fish oil and sudoku — it 's exercise that makes you brainier; From babies to wrinkles, how keeping fit can perk up our grey matter." Daily Mail (London).  27 Jan. 2009. Print.
Carmichael, Mary. "Stronger, Faster, Smarter."  Newsweek Magazine 26 Mar. 2007. Print.
Morrison, Patricia. E-mail Interview. 12 Nov. 2010.
Stroth, Sanna, et al. "Impact of aerobic exercise training on cognitive functions and affect associated to the COMT polymorphism in young adults." Neurobiology of Learning & Memory 94.3 (2010): 364-372.Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 Oct. 2010.
Trost, Stewart, et al. “Active Education”. Active Living Research. 14 Nov. 2010.
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