Defining Cognitive Function

In life, sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the important things. Exercise is not any different and it is some of those missing links that produce up the backbone of our ability to function 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 up to 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’s Proprioception and What Role Does it Play in Cognitive Function?

Wikipedia defines proprioception as “the sense of the relative position of neighbouring elements of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.” Basically it happens like this: proprioceptive training places a big demand on our working memory as a result of continual changes within our environment and terrain. For our neuromuscular systems to keep to do optimally, we have to challenge our brains and bodies with stimuli that are unpredictable and can make us think and react immediately.

Like What?

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

Proprioceptive Training and Injury

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

Even 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 that are unfamiliar to us, we continue to recruit and write new neurological patterns. Much like any modification to one’s routine, it is important that exercises are performed carefully and in a controlled environment to ensure safety and prevent injury.

Strategies for Getting Started

So, allow it to be a point out integrate new movements and exercises into your daily lifestyle by trying a number of the methods stated earlier, as well as challenging yourself on a regular basis. Like, try putting on your pants and shoes without holding onto anything, washing dishes on a single leg, or practicing simple movements with your eyes closed. A general principle to keep in mind is that when something becomes too easy or natural, you cease to challenge your neuromuscular system.

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