"A healthy mind dwells in a healthy body." Today, we are examining the true meaning of this saying more than in any other era. The purpose of this project is to develop new exercise programs by clarifying the mechanisms whereby "exercise gives rise to balance between mind and body, and produces vitality."
In the latest research on cognitive engineering, it has been found that the dorsolateral prefrontal area (Brodmann area 46) is activated by 10 minutes of light exercise, and improvement of executive function is seen. BA46 is a site associated with decreased function in depression, dementia, and autism, and thus there are positive expectations for development of new exercise programs such as enjoyable, consciously carried out light exercises that stimulate the function of that area (e.g., exercise ball activities, yoga, martial arts forms).
Through animal experiments it has already been shown, for the first time in the world, that even low-intensity exercise activates the hippocampus, and is effective for stimulating cognitive function and countering depression and anxiety. Furthermore, as the background to those results, these effects have been shown to be related to the action within the brain of a blood hormone (IGF-I) essential for the body's growth (note 1). Indeed, development of the brain can be promoted through training, just like a muscle.
Proper conditioning of the body and mind is essential for ordinary people to live comfortable daily lives, and for athletes to perform when they need to. At the University of Tsukuba, we have developed a program for visualizing, in a 2-dimensional model, the state of a person's mind, based on a self-evaluation of psychological condition (note 2). By monitoring the subject's psychological condition using this psychological condition measurement system (patent no. 4378455), and selectively using body techniques for promoting relaxation such as light exercise, each person can achieve self-control to an optimal condition suited to their individual characteristics (a self-regulation system for body and mind adapted to the individual's personality). The effectiveness of exercise has been verified based on measurements of the condition of body and mind.
Students actively participate in, and provide guidance at, community workshops for improving health. At our university, we have devised the " Furi furi-guppa exercise " for maintaining a moderate amount of exercise without using equipment, and shown that it increases the amount of blood flow in the prefrontal area, which is the command center of the brain, and puts people in a positive mood (note 3). For the students, enjoying a session of exercise with local residents is an important experience.
In addition, starting in the 2008 academic year, we have offered the Body in Performances and Arts course as a common course at the graduate school. This course looks at exercise and design from the perspective of comprehensive knowledge of philosophy and history relating to the body, exercise physiology, coaching science, psychology, and other aspects.
Jigoro Kano, who was also the founder of judo, was active for 3 terms (about 24 years) as principal of the Higher Normal School (later the Tokyo Higher Normal School), which was the predecessor of this university. Kano's philosophies of "Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit," and the educational principle of "Issei Kaiku" (the outstanding teachings of one person can influence a great many people, and outstanding teachings propagated as one's life work will last for generations) meant even more in the year 2010, when our university marked the 150th anniversary of its founding. While keeping in mind Kano's wisdom and practice, we are educating the "Jigoro Kanos of the 21st century."
(Note 1) Neuron, 2010, bilateral research with Spain
(Representative: Professor Hideaki Soya, Sports science innovation that brings up strong-mind)
[Academic years 2010-2013: Research project funded by a special grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology])
(Note 2) Associate Professor Yosuke Sakairi
(Note 3) Professor Hideaki Soya
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