Power Up Your Brain #1 of 6
Guess what? The top two things to stimulate your brain don’t have to do with “thinking” more. In fact, the top two things to Power Up Your Brain have to do with your BODY and how you MOVE!
Here’s how it works. In order for your brain to become stronger and smarter it needs stimulation, just like your muscles. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
While it is easy to think that stimulation for your brain comes from thinking (and certainly a lot does)…most of the stimulation from your brain actually comes from YOUR BODY.
Did you know that at any given moment, 90% of your brain’s energy is used to MOVE your body through space? This is one of the first things the brain develops. When you watch an infant or a toddler, they’re not concerned with addition and subtraction. They are concerned with moving! And of course when they start, they’re not very good at it. They constantly wobble, trip, and fall as they figure things out.
While you and I may move much easier through the world, it doesn’t mean our brains don’t have to work when we do. Our brains still receive constant messages from our body to keep these pathways strong and healthy.
When an elderly person’s brain breaks down…what goes first? It is often their balance. Only after their balance goes, does their mind begin to fade too. Keep an eye out to see if you can find someone who has lost their memory, but still has great balance and movement. You probably won’t find them. (Problems with balance can be an early sign of dementia)
So to Power Up Your Brain — whether you want your child to grow a super healthy brain…or you want to preserve yours — movement is key! The more your body moves, the more it stimulates your brain!
While movement is key, not all movement is created equal. What then, are the top movements to Power Up Your Brain?
Well, they actually are movements of the hands and the mouth. Here’s why…
At some point in your science classes your teacher might have shared with you a picture of a weird looking guy with really big HANDS and a really big MOUTH. This crazy picture is called the Homunculus and shows where a part of your brain (called the cortex), gets its stimulation from.
Why are the hands and mouth huge compared to the rest? It is because they have the most nerve endings, giving you the most sensation and the most control in these spots.
It is why your HANDS can immediately sense how hard or soft something is. They know exactly how hard to grip a paper cup without squishing it. They even tell your brain exactly how much strength to use to lift the cup to your mouth without lifting too hard and spilling it…or too light and dropping it.
Your MOUTH uses it’s fine movements to create all kinds of sounds as you communicate with your words. It picks up the subtleties of foods and keeps control of them so you can chew until things are just the right size and prevent you from choking. It helps you express a huge array of feelings from happy to sad, from fear to contentment…
Hint: This means talking and socializing are really healthy for your brain!
To Power Up Your Brain, the top two ways involve activating your MOUTH and your HANDS. Here are examples of powerful activities for you and your kids to activate these two areas:
- Playing a musical instrument.
- If you play a wind instrument it means you have to use your hands and your mouth so you get double the Power! Or if you don’t have a wind instrument, you can challenge your brain by singing along as you play your guitar or piano.
- Arts and crafts.
- This is a great way to challenge your hands to move in new ways. Plus, it stimulates your creative brain at the same time!
- Learning a new language.
- As you learn a new language, you challenge the muscles of your tongue and mouth to move in new patterns.
- Drawing and journaling.
- These movements are especially good to help the emotional part of your brain.
- Talking with friends!
- Yes, it’s actually good for your brain to have a motor mouth! Just make sure you give your friends a chance to build their brains too
- Blowing bubbles
- This is a great way to stimulate the brains of young kids. Blowing bubbles can be either the ones that float through the air, or using a straw and blowing bubbles in a cup of water.
As you figure out what you’re going to do with your family this summer, keep in mind what movements you’re going to do to Power Up Your Brains.
Also, stay tuned, as later we’re going to discuss the importance of BIG movements for your brain (like the jungle gym). As these are really important too!
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