Moving in the Right Direction  

Our brains are created to move

Movement is fundamental to human life. In fact, movement is life. Contemporary physics tells us that the universe and everything in it is in constant motion. A living body is a moving body. The poet and philosopher Alan Watts eloquently states a similar view, "A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool." Or it should be anyway.

A TED talk from neuroscientist, Daniel Wolpert, a self-professed movement chauvinist, typifies this idea with his theory that says “the only reason we have a brain is to create movement.” He uses the computer chip then robotics to forward his argument. He uses the game of chess as an example. Both can play chess equally well, but both cannot move the pieces equally well. This then moves his investigation to robotics – a computer placed within a manipulative form - manipulation robotics. We have seen robotics move; they are not very smooth, or fast, or move at all when an external disruption impacts them. Nothing can compare to the human brain and its ability to move our bodies.

Therefore, if we want our brains to be healthy, we have to create movement. The whole brain, the fore-brain, the mid-brain and the hind-brain, are all involved in motor control. It is not a surprise that children move so much. Because their brains are growing, their bodies have to move. Scientists now know that to achieve the precision of the mature brain, stimulation in the form of movement and sensory experiences during the early developing years is necessary (Greenough & Black, 1992; Shatz, 1992). Movement and sensory stimulation strengthens bonding synapses, which are the connections that are made between neurons. Connections that are not made by activity, or are weak, are “pruned away,” much like the pruning of dead or weak branches of a tree. If the neurons are used, they become integrated into the circuitry of the brain (Chugani, 1998). The less movement kids have, the less their brains have the chance to develop. We could move this argument to the other end of the age scale to say that the less an elderly person moves, the faster the brain deteriorates.

So let us not take movement for granted. Our brain health depends on movement. Instead, let us celebrate our ability to move. Move in as many different directions as you can. Take a dance class, move around a swimming pool, take a pottery class, play with your dog, try yoga, wrestle with your kids, just get up and move.

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About the Author

Lori Rockl graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Political Science. After working with the Federal Government through two elections, she escaped back into her gifted life of fitness training and now owns a successful Pilates & Yoga studio. Although her clientel tell her often how much they learn from her, Lori would tell you that she is the one that learns the most from her clients. For Lori, the study of the mind-body connection is an infinitely fascinating study. She has found that Pilates and yoga are excellent tools for healthy living and incorporate those tools into her marathon and triathalon training. Please contact lori at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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