The Importance of Movement on Brain Development

Published on 28th June 2021


No where is the mind body connection better displayed than in looking at the effect of Movement on Brain Development

  • Improves myelination of nerve cells which insulates the nerve and improves its conductivity (like the plastic around an electric cable)
  • Increases branching of dendrites; finger like projections from nerve cells that facilitate communication with other nerve cells
  • increases connections between parts of the brain
  • Stimulates the creation of neurons (nerve cells)
  • Brings oxygen to the brain
  • Helps ensure the brain parts perform their function properly
  • It stimulates the reticular activating system, ,limbic system,basal ganglia, and cerebellum to develop nerve nets  so that the pre frontal cortex can continue to receive enough stimulation
  • Exercise increases dopamine, serotonin and noradrenlin which mproves mood
  • Improve focus and attention for at least 2 hrs
  • Causes faster reactive times

Sitting still at school therefore is not the best way to learn. So called hyperactive children may well just be good at whole body learning! 

One of the best forms of movement for an infant is Crawling

Correct Crawling, ie opposite hand to leg will;

  • help to develop balance by stimulating the inner ear of the vestibular system
  • strengthen muscle tone and hand-eye co-ordination, the building block for future reading, writing and physical activities
  • stimulate connections across the corpus collosum to connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain, helping the child become more ?whole brained?
  • develop binocular vision (both eyes working together) and far sight- focusing on objects in the distance
  •  develop binaural hearing (both ears working together)
  • allow the child to become spatially aware
  • A child weight bearing on their hands (gently encourage the fingers to flatten over time) will develop fine motor strength important for activities such as writing
  • A child crawling on multiple surfaces (cold tiles, fluffy carpet, wet sand, grass,) will balance their touch sense
  • The repetitive nature of crawling stimulates brain activity which will assist in the development of concentration, memory, comprehension and attention.  

Other activities to develop the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain

  • knee lifts with opposite elbows touching knees
  • arm rolls one forwards and one backwards fully extended from the shoulder- change direction after a while
  • tarzan pounding the chest with fists
  • clap and cross hands in front of face alternating which hand is in front
  • drawing a huge infinity sign across the body in front of the chest. Crossing the midline (an invisible like down the centre of the body) can be hard for some children but once mastered will result in neurological development

If you are studying our anatomy and physiology course, make sure you plan in lots of movement breaks. It will really help! 


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