This is a great and exciting time for research into the brain benefits of exercise – both strength and aerobic training are proving to have a myriad of both short and long-term brain health benefits.
And every single study concludes the same way: “We need more research to understand the underlying neurobiology.”
But who is ‘we’?
We don’t need more research. They need more research.
We, the public and fitness professionals, have enough research to act.
They, the neuroscientists, need more research because science seeks certainty.
The rest of us don’t. We don’t need to hit the bullseye on the dartboard. We just need to make sure our darts are landing on the dartboard and not on the wall opposite the dartboard.
As a 25-year fitness professional, from day one it’s been put front and center that I must stay within my scope of practice (as all professionals do). This means as a fitness professional I cannot offer medical advice or go beyond the perfectly appropriate general nutrition guidance and offer full meal plans or specif exactly what a client should eat or recommend supplements, etc.
But, scope-of-practice cuts both ways.
As fitness professionals, we don’t need to be neuroscientists (and we aren’t allowed to try). So for us, we don’t need more research. There are too many people in presentations, webinars, and podcasts to fitness professionals offering cautionary “we need more research” comments to fitness professionals regarding all manner of topics.
Presenters and speakers, stay within your scope-of-practice and stop wagging your fingers at us that we “need more research.” Staying within our scope-of-practice means we shouldn’t try to be scientists so stop telling us to.
When it comes brain health and fitness, we don’t need to know the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of how fitness improves brain health, we just need to know that they do.
When the neuroscientists figure out the why and how, I’ll be excited to find out. But I and other fitness professionals don’t need to wait for that day to come to have a meaningful and noticeable positive impact on the lives of those we serve.