Movement Makes Us Smarter
We were built to move. Over time our society has become more sedentary. Our kids start sitting for 6 hours a day at the age of 5. Looking back over the course of history this is the first time a being has been expected to learn in a stationary environment. Our ancestors learned by moving and interacting with the world around them. Babies learn by movement, using all our sensory systems together. Pick up a block, lick it, taste it, shake it, bang it on the new glass table, now the baby knows what a block is AND how her body interacts with that block. When climbing a tree, we learn about physics: gravity, biology: bugs, worms, tree textures, visual spatial perspective: the view from the ground vs up high in the tree. Core strength is developed along with balance and hand eye coordination. Psychological implications: I have completed a difficult task and am proud of myself…and its fun!
There are numerous studies done on the interaction of movement (motor development) and cognitive function. Children who are more physically active perform better at tasks involving memory than sedentary children. With each new experience the muscles form a movement pattern. These movement patterns create new synapses in the brain enabling us to perform this movement again without having to re-invent the pattern. The more patterns we create and practice the more adept we are at navigating our bodies through the world.
We know the brain needs oxygen; by moving we increase oxygen flow to the brain, allowing the brain to function at an improved rate.
Athletic ability or higher than average coordination skills give many kids a great advantage in general fitness. People tend to pursue task/activities that they have been successful at. Children who are less skilled in motor tasks tend to shy away from sports, unfortunately leaving them with no outlet for fitness.
Fitness is often linked with athletic ability. When it comes to kid’s health we need to rethink this notion. Fitness should be a life-long pursuit of movement and interaction with the environment that makes your mind, body and spirit happy.
As a physical therapist, I believe that children should be involved with and exposed to in many different activities, cross training per se. I hate to see a high school athlete in my clinic with an injury that prevents them from “their” sport, I frequently see those kids stopping sports all together.
This results in so many negative side effects including loss of social circle, obesity, feelings of failure, loss of confidence. Whereas a child who has participated in many activities can participate in something else and continue to be active. For example, a high school soccer player with knee pain can switch to swimming until knee pain is resolved.
The more a child explores movement the more successful they will become at the movement patterns.
Effective movement strategies set the stage to develop proper muscular strength and fitness levels. These kids and eventually adults will be less likely to get injured, lose balance skills, and even more impressive less likely to have problems with dementia and brain degeneration as they age.
Movnat is a program for people to increase fitness and wellness by restoring basic movement patterns. Today, many of us have forgotten or lost the ability to perform basic developmental mobility and movement patterns. MovNatting can be a way to restore the ability to move and increase whole body wellness with movement.
Free to Play is a free program for everyone to become successful in multiple movement patterns.
This program developed by the Grey Institute with the intent that “Everyone is an Athlete”. This program will teach movement patterns that can benefit everyone from high level athletes to the child that trips over air. It a great way to start moving, take a break from studying and clear your mind.
Kids can go to f2pacademy.com and sign up for a locker. Once they have a locker they can view all the movement patterns. Each child can earn a star for each pattern they participate in and another star for each pattern taught to someone. It is a great program to build functional movement patterns, increase coordination and feelings of success.
School, studying and working are all important, but we must remember to take care of our bodies, give our muscles and brains a breather, incorporate movement so we can continue to perform mentally and physically at our best.