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The Science of Balance

I’ve been posting quite a bit this March about #BetterforBalance, the theme of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

But I wanted to hone my blogs this month around something I’ve been studying, namely brain-body balance.

It’s something I’ve known about on a superficial level, but I’ve never had the opportunity to dig deep and so I took the opportunity to study through Neurozone and add this scientific base to my coaching and facilitation artillery.

The work, taught via webinar, by a highly credentialed neurologist was at times tough to digest, so I want to try to unpack some of the practical insights over this blog series.

It wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the model starts right down at the core drivers of sleep, nutrition, mindfulness and exercise

and I’m going to start by looking a bit of the brain science of movement.

Many of you will know that as a hobby (and creative escape) I have taught and danced for several years; a connection I re-established after having children.

The research is quick to jump in with healing effects of movement and how impactful exercise is for reducing stress, countering mental disease and the reduction of pain in the body.

I learnt about everything from angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, to the fact that exercise promotes the development of new neurons and stronger connections.

But I took some time out last week to watch the Cape Town City Ballet at work at the Norval Foundation and I was reminded of what an extreme sport dance can be. And aside from its very physical benefits, the brain benefits are undisputed.

Apparently, movement can trigger “a state of flow” which builds neural pathways like no other discipline.

“Flow experiences have been found to increase the general contentment and productivity of the person as well as the quality of the activity.”

In fact dancers’ brains apparently react even more quickly to changes in music than musicians themselves.

Ever since discovering that our adult brains have plasticity and can build new connections at any ripe old age, I have placed emphasis on building new neural pathways in myself and with my clients. And it seems that movement, which is one of the foundational drivers of brain-body balance, is a critical one in lighting up those pathways.

So before you think I’m trying to convert you to the dance studio (which would be nice : ) try to focus on movement outside of your formal exercise programme.

The in-between moments of moving from desk to bathroom or kitchen, or taking a stretch at your computer.

Our brains are not getting the levels of movement necessary to thrive and so our creativity and innovation is automatically stunted.


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