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Physical Activity’s Impact on Cognitive Function

Topic Description

The idea that physical activity early on in life may help to improve cognitive function later on in life considerably is not new. There are many approaches and thoughts on how this particular issue can be developed. Best (2010) proves that cognitive function, and executive functioning in particular, may be enhanced though different aerobic physical activities. The achievements of Hillman, Erickson, and Kramer (2008) show that older people, under 80, feel the connection between fitness and cognition a lot due to a particular gene in their organism. However, these researchers fail to give a clear explanation to the development of the gene and the possibilities to influence its effects on cognition. The choice of such topic as the investigation of the connection between physical activity and cognitive function at the early stage of life seems to be rational and properly reasoned. Current paper aims at discussing the methods of physical activity that have to be taken at different stages of life and its effects on cognitive function among the elders.

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Worldview of the Study and Its Implications

The evaluation of past research shows that it is not enough to give one particular question to the answer whether physical activity may improve cognitive function or not. Still, it is also wrong to give some explanation to this issue as it is expected to come up with some clear conclusions. This is why it seems to be appropriate to make use of the pragmatic worldview that arises from different actions, situations, and theories. To achieve good results, it is necessary to use all available approaches to understand the problem and offer a solution.

The chosen worldview provides the researcher with a chance to consider social and historical contexts and comprehend how cognitive function may be improved by means of physical activity. Physical activity increases the number of brain neurons and special cells that take responsibility for thinking and performing some bodily functions. It is not clear which activities are necessary for people to support cognitive function during the lifespan. Pragmatism is an effective worldview to base research on as its implications will promote the development of the further investigation in the chosen sphere and help to find out extended and informative answers to the question why physical activity improves cognitive function.

Research Design (Strategies of Inquiry)

The pragmatic worldview helps to combine social and historical aspects of the connection between physical activity and cognition and assumes the presence of the mixed method design by means of which it is possible to conduct quantitative research, analyze the data, give some general evaluation, and then introduce the results using more details got from qualitative research (interviews, in particular). Explanations are crucial for sports and health sciences. Still, they do not cause the required effects until they are supported by some statistics and facts. It is not enough to get “Yes/No” answer to such question like whether physical activity improves cognitive function. It is more effective to learn how exactly physical activities in the early stages of life may influence cognitive functions later in life. Theoretical data is too vague, narrations are too particular. This is why if the theory is explained by means of real-life examples, the outcomes may be rather successful.

Research Method

Taking into consideration the fact that the mixed strategy of inquiry and the pragmatic worldview are chosen for research, the mixed method is expected to be used. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis and the presence of open- and closed-ended questions are required. The integration of data about how physical activity may define the quality of cognitive functions at different stages of inquiry will help to employ qualitative and quantitative practices. The collection of various types of information promotes better understanding of the topic. It is necessary to begin with some broad survey to introduce the already achieved results and ideas and then focus on the information got from the interviews to find out whether theory and practice are related.

Key Words for Literature Review

Physical activity, cognitive function, childhood, elderly, fitness, mental health.

As soon as the key words are identified, it is high time to think over the places where credible literature sources may be found. Online search proves that there is a certain connection between cognitive function and the way of how physical activity is performed. This is why one of the possible ways to start the material search is to surf the web and address some online databases like NCBI. In addition, the access to the local library is another powerful source of information. There are many interesting books and journals, where information about sports and mental health may be found. For example, the book edited by Clow and Edmunds contains a number of interesting investigations. Paterson and Murias (2013) believe that cognitive function decline is a significant concern and certain guidelines for older adults should be provided accordingly. Finally, interviews with people of different age about their abilities to implement physical activities into their everyday life should offer more interesting information about the topic under consideration.

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Reference List

Best, J.R. (2010). Effects of physical activity on children’s executive function: Contributions of experimental research on aerobic exercise. Developmental Review, 30(4), 331-351.

Hillman, C.H., Erickson, K.I., & Kramer, A.F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: Exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(1), 58-65.

Paterson, D.H. & Murias, J.M. (2013). Physical functioning and mental health in older adults. In A. Clow & S. Edmunds (Eds.), Physical Activity and Mental Health (pp.119-140). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

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