Want to learn better? Get Moving! Physical Activity improves brain function, enhances memory, improves creativity and has protective effects from cognitive decline associated with aging. Exercise/Movement enhances learning through activating the sensory motor systems of the body, it gets blood pumping to the brain and increases oxygenation to all of the organs. Keeping the body active promotes mental clarity. Our own experience of feeling mentally clearer after taking a short walk and studies show improved test taking performance after 20 min. of exercise (walking, running, other exercise)1; also, increased attention span after periodic 20 min. physical activity bouts2; and improved memory when movement is engaged during learning3
The integration of the sensory and motor systems improves learning, especially of things that require action like touching or giving a massage. Because touching with sensitivity (giving a massage) is a sensory motor activity, using movement paired with touch instruction enhances the learning and retention, and ultimately the embodiment of these skills. At ICoHS, we incorporate movement into the classroom experience. We use Brain Gym from Educational Kinesiology4, designed to promote better synergy between the right and left hemispheres of the brain for improved learning outcomes. We teach a movement series that connects students with the basic principles of movement and promotes increased body awareness as well as movements for applying good body mechanics at the massage table. We also include Tai Chi and the exercises for energy generation from Qi Gong to encourage slowing down, increasing body awareness, mindfulness, cultivating centeredness and building “wei chi” (protective energy). Tai Chi provides a great outlet for moving during meditation, especially helpful when sitting still in meditation is challenging. All this physical activity sets the student up for improved learning outcomes.