A structured movement program is vital to establishing and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. It benefits not only young people learning movement fundamentals, but it also helps all people adjust to the changes in their bodies – whether from age, injury, or illness. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for aging, injury, and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. (1)
Learn to Move Academy has developed structured movement programs to help people deal with the effects of aging, diabetes, ADD/ADHD, and brain injury. (2) What actually changes in the brain are the strengths of the connections of neurons that are engaged together, moment by moment, in time. The more something is practiced, the more connections are changed and made to include all elements of the experience (sensory info, movement, cognitive patterns). You can think of it like a “master controller” being formed for that particular behavior, which allows it to be performed with remarkable facility and reliability over time. New neural connections can form at an amazing speed, but in order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity. (3)
In fact, different types of exercise impact different areas of the brain. Extensive research has been done on the benefits of different forms of physical activity and exercise on the brains ability to adapt to physical changes, whether from aging, diabetes, ADD/ADHD, or brain trauma. Research has indicated that physical activity facilitates neuroplasticity of certain brain structures and, as a result, cognitive functions. It is also clear that different types of physical exercise have different effects on which neuronal processes and cognitive functions were modulated by physical activity. Kramer, et al, 1999.
Cardiovascular exercise affects both the central nervous system (enhancing general health, increasing general blood flow and nutrition supply) as well as via direct neuronal mechanisms (enhancement of neurogenesis and synaptogenesis). A chronic aerobic exercise program reported larger increases in executive functions, attention, memory, motor control, and speed of processing. Physical exercise intervention studies have also indicated that exercise may be beneficial for dementia and Alzheimer’s Disesase patients. Studies have also shown that resistance training and coordination training are Studies indicate that a combination of aerobic and resistance training might be particularly effective in improving cognitive variables. Coordination training aims at improving the efficiency of complex body movements, including hand-eye coordination, leg-arm coordination, and relations to moving objects.
Thus, a program involving a combination of coordination training, aerobic/resistance exercises, and strength conditioning affect different neurocognitive networks. Hotting, et al, 2012. See Beneficial Effects of Physical Exercise on Neuroplasticity and Cognition, Kirsten Hotting & Brigitte Roder, Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, November, 2013.
Thus, the structured movement patterns of the LTMA program improve the function of the neurons and enable the brain to adapt to these environmental changes.