Neuroplasticity Exercises To Boost Productivity
Yes, you really can rewire your brain for optimal performance at work and home.
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The reason for this cerebral shift is neuroplasticity or the brains ability to change and restructure itself. Every time the brain processes new information, neurons fire, new pathways form, and the malleable brain alters its shape and structure.
In recent years, several researchers have posited that its possible to consciously direct neuroplasticity to optimize your brain function, improve your work performance, and even influence your teams performance.
Once you understand how neuroplasticity works, youll discover that the concept is much simpler than it sounds.
Classroom Exercise Program An 8 Week Brain Break Series
Research supports the use of classroom exercises in a childs learning environment. Regular exercise breaks for elementary students helps improve learning and behavior. Physical movement breaks increase focus, attention, and memory so that kids retain information and perform better on tests. Choosing the right kind of exercise supports motor development and stimulates sensory pathways in the brain.
Throughout my years of working in the schools, I often collaborate with teachers in creating classroom exercise programs.
In the elementary school world, these great educators realize how important physical movement breaks are for their students. And, they appreciate my ideas as an occupational therapist.
The exercise programs that I help them create address development for the brain and body. They incorporate activities that stimulate sensory pathways for learning. And they address posture and motor development.
All kids benefit from these specific occupational therapy strategies. Many are struggling with basic tasks. Increased use of technology interferes with the way a childs body and brain are meant to develop.
Because of changes in play during infancy, toddlerhood and preschool, their bodies arent developing the strong foundation that it needs for school-age performance.
Increases Focus & Attention
The sensory exercises in this program include several movement and muscle / joint activities.
Moving the head in specific directions increases alertness and wakes up the brain. It stimulates the semi-circular canals in the vestibular system.
Balancing activities give input to the muscles, the movement system, and the eyes.
Activating certain muscle groups during balancing or during specific exercises provides calming and organizing input for the brain. This in turn, helps kids focus and learn better!
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How To Make Your Brain Grow
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Recent research shows that there are many ways that you can actually increase the size of your brain. For example, a new study on language acquisition indicates that learning a new language can actually help the brain to physically increase in size, which can lead to better overall brain function.
If you want to grow your brain, follow these steps:
Changing Brains In The Classroom
It turns out that if you tell students about this, it can have an effect on their brains too. Researchers Lisa Blackwell of Columbia University, along with Kali Trzesniewski and Carol Dweck of Stanford University, published a study in the journal Child Development in 2007 that found that both morale and grade points took a leap when students understood the idea that intelligence is malleable. Not only did those students who already believed this do better in school, but when researchers actively taught the idea to a group of students, they performed significantly better than their peers in a control group.
Willis also found this to be true in her middle school classroom. Her students were more motivated to study, she says, when they knew that they were all fully physically capable of building knowledge and changing their brains.
Here are a few tips for making your classroom friendly to malleable brains:
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What Can Neurogenesis Do
As you can imagine, neurogenesis has remarkable potential. The fact that our brains can grow new cells suggests that we can repair cognitive damage that has been done through months or years of abuse.
We can also improve our mental health and cognitive processing by enhancing the rate at which we create neurons.
Here are a few critical benefits of increasing neurogenesis.
It Takes More Than Just Math Puzzles To Grow Your Brain
The brains of highly successful people function differently from those of the average Joe, according to the authors of the new book,The Winners Brain. Assistant neuroscience professor Mark Fenske of the University of Guelph and cognitive behavioural psychologist Jeff Brown of Harvard Medical School, say you can rewire your brain:
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Why Is This Classroom Exercise Program Helpful For Kids
When Ive helped teachers create exercise programs, I often create activity banks. I make different categories of brain break exercises for a teacher to choose from.
On this site, there are already several posts with lists of activities:
What Ive found with most teachers, is theyd rather not have a list of ideas. They end up not knowing when to use them, how long, how often, etc! And the lists tend to get lost and piled together.
So, I made a schedule! And I specified how many of each exercise to perform. In a specific sequence. To address a variety of important foundational skills for the brain and body.
Additionally, Ive found that repeating a series of exercises for a week is really helpful for the students. It helps each child improve their skill level with each task.
They practice each series every day for an entire week. This helps to improve motor memory.
It helps them focus on making sure they perform each step correctly. Its better than jumping around or rushing through new and different exercises every day.
And the best part, each week of this exercise series can be completed in about 2 minutes. Its easy to add to your day!
What Are The Benefits Of This Classroom Exercise Brain Break What Does It Do For Kids
Whenever I choose brain breaks for kids, I make sure that they address the sensory systems and sensorimotor development. This classroom exercise series does just that!
Each of the exercises were carefully selected and grouped in specific combinations. This ensures that each week of the physical activities is addressing development.
This 8-week Brain Break Exercise Program:
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Forget Crossword Puzzles And Brain
Wed all love our brains to process information faster and have better memory recall. While you might think doing crossword puzzles, math puzzles like Sudoku, or brain-training apps will keep your brain in top shape, Dr. Jennifer Jones, a psychologist and expert in the science of success, says theres no real proof that these can improve your mental acuity. She offers some daily practices that can truly grow your brain:
Moving in your circadian rhythm is the best way to improve your brain power, according to Jones. When our sleep cycle is disrupted, our brains ability to process information and consolidate stress is inhibited. Our cognitive abilities dont work the way they should, says Jones.
Fish oil, says Jones, helps to prevent stress. Anytime we have stress, it disrupts our cognitive faculties, she says. Fish oil helps dendrites to grow. In order to have the best brain functioning, we need to have lots of dendrites, says Jones.
Your brain needs novelty to grow, says Jones. Stepping out of your comfort zone literally stretches your brain by allowing the dendrites to become like big trees with full branches rather than little shrubs. If youre afraid of public speaking, for example, speaking out more in a meeting may be enough to push you out of your comfort zone.
Take Care Of Your Brain Cells
Before we get into how to grown new brain cells, its important to note that you should take steps to take care of the brain cells you already have. Right now its very likely that there are things youre doing which are damaging your brain cells. These include the following:
- Leaving Stress Unchecked. Stress can damage brain cells over time. Protect your brain cells by managing stress. Do things such as simplifying, meditating, and prioritizing your to-do list.
- Not Getting Enough Sleep. To begin with, scientists now believe that sleep detoxes the brain, flushing out waste products linked to Alzheimers and dementia. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation kills a particular type of brain cell called locus ceruleus neurons, which play an important role in keeping us alert and awake.
- Following a Poor Diet. Eating a poor diet thats loaded with industrial fats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened treats is shrinking your brain. Data shows that the more junk food a person reports eating, the smaller their hippocampus tends to be.
If youre doing any of the things aboveleading a high-stress life, being sleep deprived, and eating a poor diet, stop it. Your brain cells will thank you.
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Classroom Exercise Program An 8 Week Brain Break Series To Help Your Students Succeed
This 8-Week Classroom Exercise Program is for sale for a small fee. You will have lifetime access to this program with your purchase.
The program comes in a PDF format. Download it or save it to your drive and pull it up on your screen. Or, print it once for your use.
It can be used as often as you like throughout your school year. Start it at the beginning of the year. Or start it after a long holiday break.
If you choose to use it at the beginning of the year, you will have time to repeat it. You can re-start the series after a holiday break and then in the spring for the end of the school year.
The cost is only $12.80.
You purchase it for your use, to use with your students every year!
If you use the program one time during the school year, its $1.60 / each week of exercises
$0.80 / week if you use the series twice per year
$0.53 / week if you use it three times per year
If you choose to use it every year, the cost is even more minimal. Thank you for helping your students! And, thanks for supporting the time spent creating and maintaining Develop Learn Grow!
Improves Core Strength And Stability For Sitting Upright & Attending
Many children are not developing the core strength they need before they start school.
This significantly impacts their ability to simply sit upright.
If they are constantly shifting around to use different muscle groups, they lose focus on work.
The exercises included increase core strength and stability.
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Ways To Make Your Brain More Efficient
In a lot of ways, your overall intelligence is fairly well established before you ever have anything to do with it. Family genetics, your diet as an infant, vaccinations, illnesses during childhood, your preschool education, even the types of punishment your parents chose to dish outthere are studies linking all these factors and hundreds more to your eventual smarts as an adult. But just as you can work hard in the gym and change your diet to overcome bad physical genetics, you can also train your brain to far exceed its initial intellectual potential. It may not be a muscle, but you can train your brain just like you would your biceps to perform at a significantly higher level, says neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of the University of California San Francisco, and the creator of brainhq.com, a site designed specifically for getting your brain into better shape.
According to Merzenich, no matter what your age or current intelligence level, that gray matter in your skull is constantly changing and evolving. Put a little work into it, he says, and your IQ, visual acuity, and ability to manage and process data can grow and improve right along with it. Here are 25 of the most effective ways to get you started on the road to pumped-up intelligence, all backed by reams of the latest data and research proving just how an average guy can improve his overall smarts.
Proven Ways To Grow Your Brain: Neurogenesis And Neuroplasticity
Exercise for 30 minutes per day or meditation stimulates the production of new synapses eating foods rich in flavonoids and antioxidants also helps with brain growth. In addition to these, here are ten proven ways to promote neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in your brain:
1. Intermittent Fasting
Calorie-restriction/fasting increases synaptic plasticity, promotes neuron growth, decreases risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and improves cognitive function according to the Society for Neuroscience.
Popular methods include: fasting one day per week, for an entire 24-hour period a 16-hour fast — having your last meal at 8pm and breaking your fast at lunch the next day the “5-2” model — five days of regular eating and two days of calorie-restricted eating in a week .
Traveling promotes neurogenesis by exposing your brain to new, novel, and complex environments. Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist from the University of Pittsburgh explains, “Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites.”
3. Use Mnemonic Devices
4. Learn an Instrument
5. Non-Dominant Hand Exercises
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Do The Right Activity
No matter which new activity you choose, make sure it follows three guidelines in order to maximize brain training, according to Dr. Morris.
Challenging. You have to always challenge your brain in order for it to grow. This is why choosing a new activity is so beneficial. It engages your brain to learn something new and offers the chance to improve.
Not up for a new endeavor? Raise the bar for an existing activity. For instance, if you are a casual golfer, commit to increasing your ability and aim to lower your handicap or shoot a specific score. “You don’t have the challenge of learning something new, but rather the challenge of increasing your skill set and knowledge,” says Dr. Morris.
Complexity. A complex activity not only strikes a match of excitement, but forces your brain to work on specific thought processes like problem solving and creative thinking. A 2013 study in Psychological Science found that older adults ages 60 to 90 who did new and complex activities, such as digital photography or quilting, for an average of 16 hours per week for three months scored better on working and long-term memory tests than those who did more familiar activities like reading and doing crossword puzzles.
Practice. Practice makes permanent, and that goes for brain function, too. “You can’t improve memory if you don’t work at it,” says Dr. Morris. “The more time you devote to engaging your brain, the more it benefits.”
The Science Of Neurogenesis Suggests It’s Possible To Create Neurons That Improve Your Memory And Thinking Skills
Image: Decade3d/ Thinkstock
There are many aspects of aging you cannot prevent, but surprisingly, memory trouble is not one of them.
“The dogma for the longest time was that adult brains couldn’t generate any new brain cells. You just use what you were born with,” says Dr. Amar Sahay, a neuroscientist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “But the reality is that everyone has the capacity to develop new cells that can help enhance cognitive functions.”
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Practicing A New And Challenging Activity Is A Good Bet For Building And Maintaining Cognitive Skills
Your brain has the ability to learn and grow as you age a process called brain plasticity but for it to do so, you have to train it on a regular basis.
“Eventually, your cognitive skills will wane and thinking and memory will be more challenging, so you need to build up your reserve,” says Dr. John N. Morris, director of social and health policy research at the Harvard-affiliated Institute for Aging Research. “Embracing a new activity that also forces you to think and learn and requires ongoing practice can be one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy.”