Building up Cognitive Function

In life, sometimes it is easy to get rid of sight of the important things. Exercise is not any different and it’s some of those missing links that produce up the backbone of our ability to work optimally.

Our Brains and Bodies are Linked

Recent studies from the Department of Psychology at the University of North Florida* show that people can increase our working memory around fifty percent by performing movements and exercises like running barefoot, carrying large and/or awkward objects (farmer’s walk), walking or crawling on a balance beam, and navigating various obstacles.

What is Proprioception and What Role Does it Play in Cognitive Function?

Wikipedia defines proprioception as “the sense of the relative position of neighbouring elements of your body and strength of effort being employed in movement.” Basically it happens similar to this: proprioceptive training places a large demand on our working memory because of continual changes in our environment and terrain. In order for our neuromuscular systems to carry on to execute optimally, we have to challenge our brains and bodies with stimuli which are unpredictable and can make us think and react immediately.

Like What?

This might be anything from riding a skateboard psilo delic, bull riding, boxing, wrestling, or simply just walking on a curb. Dynamic challenges like this can make us consciously adapt our movements to the changing environment. Fighting styles, dance, and gymnastics are ideal for proprioceptive enhancement, as they provide movements which are uniquely different and therefore challenge and improve our cognitive abilities. Benefits include reduced threat of injury, increased stability, enhanced speed, quickness, and agility.

Proprioceptive Training and Injury

Proprioceptive training has also been proven to aid in injury rehabilitation. Rehabilitation programs address three degrees of motor control: spinal reflexes, cognitive programming, and brain stem activity. These programs are made to increase dynamic joint and functional stability.

As we age, progressive cognitive decline is inevitable. Proprioceptive training has been shown to increase proprioceptive regeneration and cognitive demands in older adults. By performing challenging movements which are unfamiliar to us, we continue steadily to recruit and write new neurological patterns. Much like any modification to one’s routine, it is essential that exercises are performed carefully and in a controlled environment to make certain safety and prevent injury.

Techniques for Getting Started

So, allow it to be a point to integrate new movements and exercises into your daily lifestyle by trying a few of the methods mentioned above, as well as challenging yourself on an everyday basis. For instance, try putting on your own pants and shoes without possessing anything, washing dishes on one leg, or practicing simple movements together with your eyes closed. A general principle to consider is that when something becomes too easy or natural, you cease to challenge your neuromuscular system.

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