Exercise Those Motor Skills!

November 12, 2009 at 6:03 pm 3 comments

Make your brain work like greased lightnin'! Image by pixelbase on Stock.Xchng Motor skills. According to Wikipedia, they’re a learned series of movements combined into one smooth, efficient action.   They include large or “gross” motor skills, like sitting up, walking or running…  and smaller, “fine” motor skills like writing, fastening buttons, or putting on a pair of earrings.

We first develop them in infancy and as toddlers, then add to our repertoire as adults.   And practicing motor skills has big benefits, at any age.. it  can help maintain coordination,  balance, and visual-spatial skills – and most importantly, it may help keep seniors more independent (just as learning these skills allows toddlers to become independent)

Motor skill exercises are just plain good brain exercise, too.

The complex motions force our minds to to work in ways that bridge connections between different parts of the brain, and learning new and challenging motions helps to form new neural connections, which in turn increases the brain’s health and builds up a cognitive reserve.

How do you exercise your motor skills?

By learning new series of combined movements – a classic example is patting your head while rubbing your belly.  Other good examples?

  • Try writing with your non-dominant hand
  • Tap your toe on one foot, while you tap the heel of the other foot – then switch sides!
  • Move one arm in a big windmill motion forward, and the other backwards, then reverse.
  • Practice juggling!
  • Stand on one foot, and write out the numbers 1-10 on the floor with the other.

If an activity seems too hard or difficult at first, .just try for a few minutes, then take a rest, and come back to it the next day. Sometimes building the new neural circuits involved can take time.  But if you’re gentle with yourself, the skills *will* come, along with the brain-building benefits!

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Entry filed under: Be Mentally Active, Be Physically Active!. Tags: , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Calf Exercises  |  November 12, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Developing these motor skills is so much easier said than done! I constantly try to write with my left hand, im a righty, and it hardly seems to progress!

    Reply
  • 2. stacyfaye  |  November 19, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Thank you for this article. Many people focus so much on physical exercise, they never think of the need to exercise the brain. Do you think playing video games exercises motor skills?

    Reply
    • 3. Tori Deaux  |  November 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Stacy!
      Keeping in mind that this is just a layperson’s opinion (based largely on what I’ve read of studies and experts) I think many video games exercise motor skills – probably especially if you switch around the input methods (mouse, keyboard, joystick) as well as the games. It’s not an area I’ve looked into deeply, but I know the research is out there 🙂

      Reply

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About This Blog


A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
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Authored by Tori Deaux
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