Movement is an essential part of our daily lives. We often think of movement in terms of staying physically fit, but it is equally important for cognitive health. Movement training has been shown to benefit cognitive alertness, recall, and attention. By incorporating thinking games, and light-hearted mental challenges into exercise, we can stimulate our brains and enhance our cognitive abilities more effectively than with sedentary activities.
At its core, movement training is based on the principles of mind-body integration, where physical activities have the goal of improving brain function. Tasks are based on their potential to improve certain aspects of cognitive function, such as recall, reaction, balance, and awareness. The process of movement training also stimulates the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that facilitates learning and memory. Therefore, by engaging in movement training, individuals can improve their cognitive performance while also gaining additional benefits such as improved physical fitness and coordination.
One of the core principles in the philosophy and benefits of movement training specific for cognitive alertness, improved recall, and engaged attention is the implementation of exercises that help build cognitive alertness. Exercises designed to stimulate recall, reaction, balance and awareness have been shown to increase the production of the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for memory and cognitive function.
The incorporation of exercises that involve full-body movements, thinking and moving (decisions as reactions to visual or auditory cues), coordination, and focus on awareness of environment, has been linked to improvements in cognitive function, as well as improved attention and working memory. Overall, these exercises offer a promising approach to enhancing cognitive function and mental acuity, promoting long-term brain health and wellness.
Certain types of physical activity while learning, such as learning a new dance, a new sport, or martial art such as Tai Chi, can enhance alertness and working memory, leading to a more engaged attention span and improved sense of being “present.” Additionally, these exercises can help boost levels of neurotransmitters and helpful signaling hormones, including acetylcholine, endorphins, and insulin-like growth factor one [IGF-1] which play vital roles in neural connections, new synapse formation, and working memory. Also, physical exercise in general enhances brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and health of nerve cells that are essential to learning and recall. By incorporating targeted exercises into your movement training routine, you can enhance your ability to recall information and respond to stimuli. To achieve the best results, a professional trainer called a medical exercise specialist can customize your workout plan to meet your unique needs and goals safely accommodating any health and mobility limitations. Movement training can even be done seated!
Regular exercise, even seated exercise, when practiced a minimum of fifty sessions in six months (in other words, twice a week) was shown to result in improvements in balance, as well as in preserving cognitive function such as recall among participants in studies. Further, incorporating movement training that is specific for improving cognitive alertness and attention can have numerous benefits for individuals. Incorporating simple yet effective think-and-move training into daily routines can turn exercise into a fun, engaging game that fosters a healthier lifestyle, improves cognition and promotes emotional well-being.
Physical activity has far-reaching benefits beyond just improved physical health. Incorporating exercise into routines can be an enjoyable way to promote cognitive alertness, engage attention and improve recall and outlook. Specifically, movement in reaction to a playful cue (as in a game) becomes a practice opportunity for processing, recall, balance, and awareness. Regular practice can have profound effects on cognitive function. The benefits of movement training go beyond just physical exercise, as it can also contribute to enjoyment, a more positive state of mind, stress reduction, and improved overall well-being. Incorporating movement training into one’s life can contribute to an overall healthier mind and body.