The positive effects of physical activity on our health and well-being are undisputed today. Physical activity demonstrably reduces the risk for a large number of (lifestyle) diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, depression, and even cancer, and is increasingly used in the therapy of these diseases. With every new insight the conviction grows that physical activity is a real miracle cure for a multitude of diseases – and it's completely free! Unfortunately, this knowledge does not (yet) affect the physical activity behavior of our modern society.
Our physical activity behavior is undoubtedly governed – consciously or unconsciously – by our brain. Only in recent years, however, have scientists become increasingly interested in how, conversely, the physical activity behavior affects our brain. Today, the topic is more relevant than ever and more and more evidence indicates that physical activity positively affects not only our physical but also our mental health and our cognitive abilities. Although the exact mechanisms are not yet understood in detail, it is now considered certain that physical activity has a positive effect on the plasticity of the brain and thus on cognitive functions and intelligence. It is, therefore, not surprising that physically active children often stand out for better academic performance than inactive ones or that exercise helps to maintain cognitive abilities in old age.
Despite the many positive aspects, sport can also have negative effects on our brain. A major topic, which is only gradually being given the attention it deserves, are the many concussions in sports such as ice hockey, American football or boxing. Today we know that multiple traumatic brain injuries can lead to neurodegenerative changes in the brain (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). The consequences are serious long-term damage, such as cognitive impairments, memory disorders, Alzheimer's disease or depression.
Therefore, we would like to dedicate this year's 11th Annual Meeting of the SGS to the various topics around the interplay between physical activity and the brain and look forward to exciting, new insights into this important topic.