Have I managed to convince you that exercise is an optimal way to encourage neuroplasticity (brain growth) and maintain a healthy brain?
However, now I have a caveat: exercise can sometimes be bad for the brain.
Just ask the people who end up with one of the estimated 300,000 sports-related injuries per year.*
For the 15-24 year age range, sports-related injuries were second only to car accidents in the number of brain injuries.
In addition, concussions account for 10% of all high school sports injuries. When looking at kids who played American football, nearly 2,000 injuries were treated every day in emergency rooms during football season. This study, spanning 18 years, also found that brain injuries had increased 27%.
Americans aren’t the only ones with high levels of brain-related sports injuries. A Canadian research team led by Dr. Michael Cusimano, Director of the Injury Prevention Research Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, found that youth hockey players were 10 times more likely to suffer a brain injury after rules on body checking were relaxed.
Are these brain injuries going to influence brain health later in life?
Repeated concussions have been linked to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, though no one knows the exact role concussions may play in its development.
They have also been correlated with higher risk of PTSD and anxiety disorders.
There are other things we do that aren’t good for our brains – and we may not even realize that we’re doing them. Want to know more? Check this out.
Could your community benefit from improved safety in sports? Please leave a comment below.
*According to researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, each year 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries, predominately concussions, occur in the United States