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Preparing our children for school. How movement can target cognitive development.

Just like that, we are at the end of another year, and what a year it has been! Every day, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to help create a happy and positive experience of health and exercise for each and every one of our Kids Heart Pilates children. However, it isn’t over yet! This term has been all about cognitive development to help prepare the children for their school preparations.

Did you know exercise can help to engage cognitive development? According to new research, when we encourage children to participate in a cognitively engaging exercise, greater benefits are shown as opposed to non-cognitively engaging movements. It is suggested that when performing cognitive developing exercises, the same neural networks that are activated during high-complex processes are also activated leading to more efficient neural functioning which aids in improved performance (Song,, 2022).

Amazing, isn’t it? The fact that performing certain movements can help to trigger a neural response that can lead to improved cognition just shows you how incredible the human body really is, and for that matter, how important exercise is to our lives. In a systematic review conducted by Song (2022) on the effects of cognitively engaging physical activity interventions on executive function among children aged 4-12 years old, it was concluded that children should be encouraged to engage in more physical activity with higher cognitive demands as it is safe, low cost and beneficial for not only physiological health, but also for cognitive health. So what are some exercises that target cognition?

Well, firstly, let’s take a look at what cognitive development really means. Cognitive development is the development of the mind. It is a significant factor in attitude, behaviour and belief. It is the ability to recognise something, reason and understand concepts. The skill to use the knowledge you know to negotiate, understand and problem solve. It is the use of memory, the use of imagination, being able to stay focussed, concentrate and pay attention. So, when we incorporate exercises that use both sides of the body at the same time and which cross the midline of the body, we are increasing the activity of communication between the two sides of the brain. Here are some of my favourite exercises that I use to target cognitive development:

  • High-repetition games like “Simon Says”

  • Obstacle courses

  • Problem-solving games like “Eye spy”

  • Opposite games

  • Coordinated games such as gymnastics, Pilates and dance.

I hope this list gives you some ideas and inspiration for exercises these holidays. I also want to take this opportunity to wish all of our Kids Heart Pilates children heading off to a new school this year the best of luck! Go be yourselves, be curious, be brave and enjoy!

REFERENCE: Song, W., Feng, L., Wang, J., Ma, F., Chen, J., Qu, S., & Luo, D. (2022). Play smart? Effect of cognitively engaging physical activity interventions on executive function among children 4-12 years old: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain Sciences, 12(6), 762.

1 comentário

18 de jan. de 2023

In the article I do not recall seeing the time or frequency that they found benefited children’s cognitive functions. Do you know if there is a recommendation? it seemed they also suggested physical activity that got children having to predict an opponent, adapt movement strategies etc was most beneficial. I would think Pilates definitely engages some of those things, perhaps that also means sports like soccer, basketball, tennis?

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