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Scientific Innovation to Nurture Mental Strength: Body and Mind Integrated Science

2014.06.23

Unit Name:
Body and Mind Integrated Science: BAMIS
Unit representative:
Professor Hideaki Soya, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences

Unit members:
31 (19 faculty members, 5 postdoctoral fellows, 7 from other organizations)

Key words:
integration of the body and mind, sport science, mental strength, cognitive and brain sciences, low-intensity exercise

 

     This research unit, named: Body and Mind Integrated Science: BAMIS, launched the BAMIS Project in 2010, with a view to developing innovative exercise programs to nurture mental strength (to overcome stress and perform stable and proactive behaviors) by scientifically examining the effects of exercises to maintain a vital and flexible body and mind, while simultaneously focusing on the physical, mental, and technical aspects (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Body and Mind Integrated Science: BAMIS

Figure 1: Body and Mind Integrated Science: BAMIS

“SPARTS” – A Combination of Sports and Arts

     When you listen to music, your body naturally moves, getting into a rhythm. Doing “exercise” sounds difficult; however, in combination with music, it creates positive feelings, and activates your brain. This research unit has been engaged in the development of time- and space-saving exercise programs to refresh the mind, such as the SPARTS program*1, which has been adopted in schools affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. This program is applicable even in limited spaces and shared environments, and is based on a 2- or 3-minute rhythmic exercise to move the entire body, while listening to music. Adopting martial arts and oriental physical techniques (motions, breathing methods, and mental concentration), it enables a wide range of age groups to enjoy time together, singing and moving (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Jump Exercise (SPARTS) at a Disaster-affected Elementary School

Figure 2: Jump Exercise (SPARTS) at a Disaster-affected Elementary School

Pleasure-creating Exercise

     Focusing on daily physical activities, we have demonstrated that it is possible to activate not only the body, but also the brain, and improve the cognitive function by performing enjoyable low-intensity exercise (Figure 3). In addition to healthy people, such exercise is also performable by those with depression or diabetes. With slight stimulation as exercise, the muscle mass and numbers of capillaries and mitochondria increase based on the principle of adaptation or as a biological response. Furthermore, our previous studies revealed that low-intensity exercise promotes growth factors in the central nervous system, and suggested the possibility of neurogenesis in the hippocampus as the organ responsible for memory and learning.

Figure 3: Functional Near-infrared Spectrophotometry: Short-term Exercise Promotes Executive Functioning

Figure 3: Functional Near-infrared Spectrophotometry: Short-term Exercise Promotes Executive Functioning


*1: A program and newly created word combining sports and arts.

Social contributions and achievements
● Holding international forums (3), domestic seminars (37), and an international symposium
● Being introduced in the New York Times, with titles: “Brains and Brawn”, “How Exercise Fuels the Brain”, and “How Testosterone May Alter the Brain after Exercise”
● Publishing articles in the journals PNAS and Neuron
● Founding an international association of researchers, named KATS, in cooperation with Korea
● Implementing the SPARTS program in schools located in east Japan as a post-disaster support business entrusted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology

(Interviewed on June 20, 2013)


Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434