Can coordination exercises improve brain function?

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Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Simple coordination based exercises not only improve your coordination but they can also improve your brain function and learning.

There are indications that major nervous system development and organization continues throughout life. Although mostly this occurs in the first 5 years of life.

In the early months of life your movement is unilateral or ‘same sided’. That is, the arm and leg on the same side of the body extend and flex together to create movement, so that when your right arm moves forward so does your right leg. At about six months of age you develop a cross crawl pattern where the opposite arm and leg flex and extend together. So that when your right arm moves forward your left leg does. This cross crawl pattern is correct coordination and you will use this for the rest of your life unless it becomes impaired.

Brain exercises and physical coordination are benefits of physical activity such as coordination exercises because mind and body are connected. Certain physical coordination and occupational therapy activities support learning, especially reading fluency and comprehension.

Exercise that requires coordination activates the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and enhances thinking, cognitive flexibility, and processing speed. The cerebellum is also linked to the prefrontal cortex, where judgment and decision-making occur. This means that participating in activities that require coordination can make you smarter and give you better self-control.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.