Physical Activity vs. Technology
What if I told you that there is a type of medicine that you could take that could help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life and you did not have to pay a dime for it? Would you take it? What if I told you that this is a medicine that might taste bitter in the beginning but as time goes on you adjust to its bitterness and even begin to like it? Would you take it? Well, guess what? There is. It is called physical activity.
According to the WHO, physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. This can be walking, gardening, riding a bike, cleaning the house, etc.
The benefits of physical activity are extensive. Science has shown that physical activity can improve mental health (feelings and thoughts), attention span, overall brain function, etc. However, access to technology and a vast array of devices keep us inside, scrolling, liking, following, canceling, etc., the options are endless. This might be one of the reasons why we have such short attention spans today. Instead of going outside and socializing, connecting with nature, or committing to a sport, we scroll on TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms and spend hours in front of devices.
Physical Activity & Brain Development
Physical activity can increase the size of a child’s brain and improve academic performance. According to a study conducted at the University of Granada in Spain, children who are physically fit have a greater volume of gray matter, which plays a role in learning and motor skills. This means that the brain of children who engage in some type of physical activity is different from the brain of those who don’t. Moreover, animal studies have shown that exercise increases the growth of new neurons and enhances memory and learning.
These are just some reasons why physical activity/exercise is essential for brain development. The technological revolution we are living in at the moment offers a myriad of resources that we can utilize in our favor. However, many choose to use technology to waste their time, play games, bully others, and spread hate on social media instead of using it as a tool to prosper their growth and development.
I think it is obvious to everyone that Gen Z folks do not have the attention span of any previous generation. We are not able to listen to a 45-minute lecture. We are not able to read 10 pages of a magazine let alone a book such as Crime and Punishment. We are not able to study for an hour without getting distracted and grabbing our phones. This comes as no surprise. What would surprise me is if most of you actually read up until this point and did not get distracted or bored.
I am absolutely guilty of all things mentioned above. Not to defend us in any way, but one of the reasons why we cannot do all these things is because we are constantly being overstimulated. A perfect example is social media. The harmless scrolling through ANY social media platform might not be so harmless after all.
Think of it this way : if you grab a glass from your kitchen cabinet and go outside while it is raining, the glass will eventually get filled no matter if it is pouring or if it is drizzling. Although the droplets might seem minuscule at best, eventually they fill the glass. Think of this glass as memory storage in the brain and the rain droplets as every scroll on social media. Seemingly mindless social media usage leaves the brain oversaturated, not being able to process or store anything else.
While the use of technology is okay in moderate amounts, the unfortunate truth is that most people spend a lot more time on their devices than they should. An important thing to note is that a technological device is simply a TOOL that we can either use in our favor or misuse and cause harm. With that being said, we are the ones who should be controlling it, not the other way around.
Physical activity is associated with: :
- Brain development
- Emotional resilience
- Weight management
- Reduced risk of a heart attack
- Reduced risk of diabetes type II
- Reduced risk of hypertension
According to Dr. Fiona Bull, program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases at WHO, improving physical activity and reducing sedentary time will not only improve overall well-being but will also prevent obesity and other related diseases.