Exercise = Brain Power

Exercise is good for the body.  It is the key to good cardiovascular health, building and toning muscles and improving mood, and it is also a great way to improve brain power.  Mounting scientific evidence suggests that what’s good for our hearts is also good for our minds.  Studies find that short bursts of exercise right before a mental challenge can significantly boost performance.  Dr. John Ratey, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says “Exercise in many ways optimizes your brain to learn”.  Exercise improves circulation throughout the body, and increases oxygen flow into the brain.  An increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptake in mental sharpness.  “Exercise also boosts metabolism, decreases stress and improves mood and attention, all of which help the brain perform better”, Ratey explains.
In addition to the benefits of exercise on the brain, research shows that having meaningful relationshipsand a strong support system are vital not only for emotional health, but also on brain health.  In one recent study from the Harvard School of Public health, researchers found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest memory decline, lower blood pressure and longer life expectancies.  Relationships stimulate our brain, and interacting with others may be the best kind of brain exercise.
One more interesting finding was that laughter is good for your brain.  Laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.  Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence says, “Laughter seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely”.  By having fun and laughing, your stress levels decrease significantly.  Humor stimulates the parts of the brain that use the “feel good” chemical messenger dopamine.  So smiling and laughing should definitely be done throughout the day.
All of these factors; exercise, having meaningful relationships, and laughter are what camp is all about.  Where else can young people benefit from all of the evidence about boosting brain power than the camp environment?  Campers are constantly exercising their bodies with physical activity, developing friendships and interacting with others throughout the day, and of course laughing!!!!    Camp is a great place for many reasons, but boosting brain power is definitely an added bonus!