If I told you that you could improve your child’s attention, emotional regulation, social connections and memory by improving their balance, would you believe me?
Brain science tells us that all of these processes are controlled by the cerebellum. The cerebellum is a small, but powerful, part of the brain. It is only 10% of the brain mass but has over 50% of the neurons in the brain. Originally, the cerebellum was only thought to control balance and coordination in the body. But it is now understood that it controls coordination of all functions of the brain- emotions, thoughts, learning, senses and motor movement. The power of the cerebellum is continually being studied and the results are encouraging for those of us whose children are struggling in these areas. Here is the exciting part- strengthening the cerebellum has been shown to improve all its functions! Focus, emotional regulation, learning, social skills, impulsivity… the list goes on.
How do you strengthen the cerebellum? Through challenging it with increasingly difficult balance exercises. If you can force the cerebellum to be stimulated in a different way, you can open it up to learn new skills and strengthen the coordination systems.
Are you telling me all of these things that my child struggles with can be improved through balance exercises?
Are you excited now? The research on how to do this most effectively is still developing, but it has shown that any form of balance exercise helps. Yoga, core exercise, gymnastics, martial arts are all ways to improve balance. But you can also do simple balance exercises in your home with minimal equipment and see great results.
In their recent book, ADHD 2.0, Drs. Hallowell and Ratey list a simple exercise routine they used with a client. The routine is simple and can be done in your home. Start with the base exercises and add difficulty by adding time or closing your eyes.
You can add increasing challenges to this routine by adding mental stimulation. Consider having your child repeat math facts, practice sight words, list state capitals or the periodic table after the maximum time for the balance exercises has become easy for them. “The combination of challenging the brain and body has a greater positive impact than aerobic exercise alone. ” say Dr. John Ratey in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
We created an easy to use infographic to follow and implement this practice for your family. Enter your email address below to receive our infographic that shows you how to do this simple balance exercise routine. Build it into your day for a month and watch your child’s ADHD symptoms improve.
If you want to read more about exercise and ADHD, check this blog post.