How many minutes of your life have you lost by frantically looking for your keys – while they were in your hand the whole time? What if more movement could help us improve our memory? In The Working Memory Advantage, Dr. Tracy Alloway describes how controlled, mindful movements that require concentration and problem-solving boost our working memory and brain function. Studies show that babies and children begin forming their own neural pathways for movement by watching the people around them move, which is one reason children tend to walk and move the same way their parents do. These movements will help strengthen and improve your memory, and your children can do them with you!
BALANCE: Balance work pumps your body with the good kind of stress—the kind that facilitates learning. The key here is to vary the activity you perform while balancing. You can start by creating a line flat on the floor or placing something firm and flat on the ground, like a 2×4. Practice walking barefoot forward and backward, making sure to keep your shoulders and arms relaxed at your sides. If you can master that, try lunging on it, treaching and picking something up off the floor, pivoting 180-degrees, playing catch while you’re balancing, walking with your eyes closed, jumping to it, and sticking the landing. After you’ve balanced on something flat, try it on more challenging objects, like a throw pillow, a broomstick handle, or a family slack-line.
SQUAT: You’ve probably noticed how perfectly a kid can show you up when it comes to squats. What we’re after here is a deep sustained squat that enables us to be stable and perform a task at the bottom. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your toes pointing forward. Make sure to press your knees outward to the sides so they track over your toes as you squat, rather than collapsing in together. You want your rear to get below your knees. If that’s difficult, you can widen out your feet and slightly point your toes out to the side. You could also hard and stable, like a book, under each foot while you squat if you struggle with ankle mobility. From there, try to spend some time practicing to improve the depth, stability, and duration of your squat.
CRAWL: Crawling requires total body engagement, concentration, and coordination. Start on your hands and knees with your toes curled under. Press through your toes to pick your knees up off the ground, so your four points of contact are your hands and your toes. Keep your back flat and be mindful to keep your rear from raising up into the air. You’ll want to move your opposite hand and foot at the same time, so left hand and right foot, then right hand and left foot , just like a baby would. Remember to breathe normally and to keep your moving limbs supple, not stiff, like a cat, and remember to keep that flat table back throughout. Have some fun with it! Play tag while crawling, and of course—every kid’s favorite—play horse! Giddy-up, mom!
How have these movements helped improve your memory? Share with us in the comments!