Updated: May 12, 2020
You probably instinctively know that movement and exercise are good for you, but why is it so important for your kids?
You can probably easily name your five senses – sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. Though did you know we receive input from two additional senses?
The vestibular sense, or movement and balance sense, gives us information about where our head and body are in space. It allows us to stay upright while we sit, stand, and walk. The vestibular system is located within the inner ear and responds to movement and gravity. It contributes to the development of balance, postural control, muscle tone, and maintaining a stable visual field while you are moving.
Proprioception, or your body awareness sense, is a constant feedback loop within our nervous system that tells our brain what position we are in or what forces are acting upon our body at any given time. It tells us when our arm is raised above our head, even when our eyes are closed, or how much force to use when we’re cracking open an egg.
Humans actually needed the vestibular system to adapt to gravity on Earth. The vestibular system is actually the first sensory system to develop in the womb. The vestibular and auditory systems are developed within the first 9 to 11 weeks in the pregnant mother. When the fetus is only 5 months old its vestibular system is amazingly well developed. The vestibular system provides the growing fetal brain with vast amounts of sensory information as the fetus is rocked back and forth by its mother’s movements.
Why Movement Matters As kids grow and develop, sensory systems like the vestibular system and proprioception help them learn about living in the world around them. However, kids are having fewer opportunities to move and be active at school and at home. Yet experts agree that children need atleast 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Many of the physical benefits of physical activity are well documented, such as increased bone strength, stronger muscles and improved coordination. Though here are some brain and mental-health benefits as well:
* Develops the Brain - Research shows that regular moderate intensity exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with learning and memory. Exercise also helps release BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) which stimulates new neurons in the brain.
* Improves Focus - Studies show that children who are more active exhibit better focus.
This skill is becoming more important than ever, especially as kids have regular distractions from computer screens, TV screens and phone screens.
* Emotional Regulation - Physical activity can also help kids better regulate emotions. In order to think, learn and process experience, one must first feel calm, and movement can help achieve this kind of calm
* Improves Attention Span - Studies have even shown that extended sessions of yoga can lead to improvements in attention span and emotional regulation for kids.
Opportunities to Move
Looking for ways to get more purposeful movement for your kids? Come try out one of the movement-based kids classes offered by SpringSpot. Our thoughtfully put together and learning outcome-based classes will enrich your children. Plus you can get a workout in at the same time too! Check out our upcoming classes.