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Moving, Thinking and Learning


– Written By Dr. Timothy Davis –  

I recently watched a rerun of the movie Mrs. Doubtfire and could not help but laugh at the way
the character (played by Robin Williams) cleaned and vacuumed. It reminded me that there are
so many ways we can embed movement into our often-mundane daily routines. In fact, the
movie clip demonstrated that even during tense situations physical activity can help address


These day-to-day examples increase our blood flow, stimulate our brain function, and brighten our mood. To put it plainly, physical activity IMPACTS THE BRAIN!





Digging a bit deeper, we can find more and more research that points to the significant AND positive impact daily physical activity has on the brain and brain function. Specifically, movement has a significant impact on the way we think, feel, and learn. At a time when the impact of Social Emotional Learning and effects of Childhood Anxiety are at an all-time high – movement has been the constant and most reliable source that supports our daily health. Even top neuroscientists suggest that daily physical activity is the most transformative activity one can do to enhance brain function. This is why Fit and Fun Playscapes continues to promote daily physical activity to help children embrace the life-changing, mood-boosting, cognitive-enhancing benefits of moving your body! Please join us on this mission and we hope you enjoy this latest blog.

Take a moment to look at the top ten benefits on how daily physical activity and movement can have a profound impact on thinking and learning by influencing various cognitive processes and brain functions.

1. Increased blood flow to the brain: Movement, especially aerobic exercise, increases blood flow to the brain, delivering more oxygen and nutrients. This can enhance cognitive function, including attention, memory, and problem-solving skills.

2. Stress reduction: Physical activity can help reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Lower stress levels can improve cognitive function and make it easier to focus and learn.

3. Enhanced mood: Exercise and movement can boost mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. A positive mood can improve cognitive performance and make learning more enjoyable.

4. Improved concentration: Engaging in physical activity can help increase focus and attention span, making it easier to concentrate on learning tasks. Movement breaks during study sessions or work can re-energize the brain and improve productivity.

5. Brain plasticity: Regular physical activity can promote neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. This can enhance learning and memory
formation by strengthening neural pathways associated with specific skills or knowledge.

6. Integration of body and mind: Movement-based activities, such as dance or martial arts,
require coordination and proprioception, the awareness of one's body in space. These activities can help integrate sensory and motor information with cognitive processes, leading to improved cognitive function.

7. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) release: Exercise stimulates the release of BDNF, a protein that supports the growth and survival of neurons. Higher levels of BDNF are associated with improved learning, memory, and cognitive function.

8. Mindfulness through movement: Practices like yoga and tai chi combine movement with mindfulness techniques, promoting relaxation, stress reduction, and improved cognitive function.

9. Social connections enhanced: Like the benefits above, when we feel in control of our own bodies and are confident in our ability to move and think – creating social connections is enhanced.

10. Improved sleep quality: Daily physical activity can improve sleep quality and duration, which is essential for cognitive function and memory consolidation. Better sleep allows the brain to process information more effectively, leading to improved learning outcomes.

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In summary, whether you exercise like Mrs. Doubtfire, play on the playground, or hit the gym
regularly, movement can positively impact thinking and learning by promoting brain health,
reducing stress, enhancing mood, improving concentration, and facilitating neuroplasticity.
These are just a few of the WIN/WIN/WIN benefits when incorporating regular physical activity
into daily routines and how they can support cognitive function and overall well-being. Keep
moving and being confident in your shoes!


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