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How recreation can help grow new brain cells

When I was a kid, I always heard, “People never grow new brain cells,” which was often followed up by the fun fact, “Every seven to 15 years all of your cells have been replaced, so you’re essentially a brand new person!”

So, wait. Which is it?

Biology is confusing and complex, especially for somebody like me who isn’t trained in biology, but just like when you’re taking a true and false test as soon as you see absolutes like never and all it’s reasonable to be suspicious of the statement’s accuracy.

Many cells do indeed get replaced – more often than seven years in many cases – but there are also some cells that don’t get replaced such as the inner lining of your eye or your tooth enamel. While it does appear parts of your brain don’t regenerate new cells, there is growing evidence that neurogenesis (the growth and development of nervous tissue) does occur in at least one part of the adult brain: the hippocampus. This is structure that helps with learning, memory, mood and emotion.

Exciting, right?


Boot camp

What’s more exciting is that you can aid in the generation of new brain cells in the hippocampus! Diet and lifestyle have been shown to influence neurogenesis. While there are many behaviors and activities in that list, there are two in particular that stood out: learning and exercise. As an active recreation facility, the Manassas Park Community Center can help with both!

There are tons of opportunities to learn something new here at the community center! We have American Sign Language and Arabic if you’re looking to explore a new language. If you want to learn a craft, we have crochet and sewing classes. You can generate new brain cells and create a new outfit!

ASL Class

ASL Class

Neural stem cell researcher Sandrine Thuret, suggests that any activity that will increase blood flow to the brain should be beneficial so the plethora of fitness programs we have available should have you covered! Group exercise classes like boot camp and Zumba will definitely get your blood pumping. Our two new exciting classes, barre conditioning and salsa, merengue, and bachata classes, can help motivate you to exercise and help you learn something new. If sports are your preferred method of fitness, drop-in basketball , volleyball, and pickleball are great options that are available.

If you’re interested, give us a call at 703-335-8872 and ask our amazing front desk staff all about the programs we have available here at the Manassas Park Community Center – or maybe we should change our name to the Manassas Park Neurogenesis Center?

In any case, we’ll see you soon!


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