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I like to move it, move it!

August 23, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to join two of my colleagues in speaking to parents at one of the primary schools in our area. The topic I was discussing was the importance of movement to regulation, mood and learning (for both us and our kids!). Having reminded myself yet again just how important this is, I have decided to share a few ideas about the benefits of regular movement via my blog.

Why is it important to get moving?

  1. Health benefits - You are probably already aware of the health benefits of regular movement. Exercising regularly can bring about benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes, and reduced risk of heart disease and strokes.
  2. Improved mood -  The evidence is piling up to show that regular movement can have both short and long-term benefits on our mood.  Not only does exercise give a lift in mood within about 5 minutes due to the release of endorphins, but long-term exercise also reduces the experience of depression over the long term.
  3. Improved sleep - Regular movement has also been shown to improve sleep quality and routine.
  4. Improved learning and attention - Research is pointing to exercise increasing the release of a substance called BDNF (Brain Derived Neutrophic Factor), which is a bit like fertiliser for the brain. It is associated with increases in new brain cells, brain connections and  increases in the size of some critical areas of the brain. In turn, these are related to the improvements in IQ which can be demonstrated in those who exercise. Concentration and attention are also positively impacted, a very important finding for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
  5. Longer life! - A relationship has been demonstrated between people who exercise a moderate or intense amount, with the slower unravelling of a structure called Telomeres. These structures are a bit like the ends on shoelaces, only they serve to stop our genes unravelling. We need our genes in good shape if they are going to replicate accurately and give us new cells to rebuild our body.

To read more about just how good exercise or movement is for health, look out for information by John Ratey on the internet or his book Spark.

How to get you or your child moving...

Forget everything I have just said! Much as all these reasons are true..., when it comes to getting out of bed and getting moving, these rational reasons aren’t always helpful. Marketing research tells us the closer we get to decision point, the more we will be influenced by our feelings. So, we need to focus on the feel good, short term messages. “I will feel better” or “my child will be calmer if we go for this walk around the block”. Rather than “We should do some exercise, it’s good for us”. These ‘should’ messages don’t work for motivation, and are more like being told to eat our brussel sprouts. We need to see movement opportunities as gifts for a great day rather than chores. For more on this motivational strategy look out for a book by Michelle Segar called No Sweat.

So my invitation to you is to choose exercise you enjoy (ideally together with your family if that suits you), be realistic in your goals and do it because it feels good!

Family walk

I am an occupational therapist based in Perth’s northern suburbs offering  both adult and child occupational therapy services. I work with children, adults and parents to create individualised strategies to help overcome everyday difficulties and enable individuals to reach their full potential. For more information about my occupational therapy services, feel free to contact me via my website.

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