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Time to Make the Mind-Body Connection2011.07.04

    Mind and body are separated into different departments in school, and they are pursued at best in parallel, but separate tracks. The problem with this is that school also rewards and favors people who perform better in one track, and in this way education can become unbalanced or one-sided. Schools pay lip-service to a well-rounded education, but in practice mind and body are often treated as separate entities.


    A fascinating article makes the case very well for why we need to pay closer attention. The Mind/Body Connection: A Formula for Student Success (, by the Cedar School of Physical Education in Hanover, Massachusetts. This article suggests that despite irrefutable evidence on the importance of exercise for learning and brain development, schools have in fact shifted resources away from physical education and the arts in an effort to reinforce training for standardized tests in Mathematics and English/Language Arts.


    This has coincided with trends in society toward obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, as if Old Rockin’ Chair won’t get you soon enough!


    John Ratey, M.D, associate clinical professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, is quoted as saying, “Movement is essential to memory, emotion, language and learning. The so called higher brain functions evolved from movement and depend on it.”


    In addition to the normal benefits of aerobic activity and physical coordination, the article reveals research that clearly connects engagement in complex physical activities with the development of the brain and cognitive function, and that often the same parts of the brain are involved in physical and mental activity.


    Students participating in just 30 to 45 minutes a day of physical and movement education have been shown to concentrate better, show better classroom behavior, and perform better on standardized tests. And yet how many adults today even engage in as much exercise or movement on a daily basis?


    The Center for Innovation in Science Learning at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provides a digest of similar evidence on the importance of exercise and movement for learning, and on the Science of the Mind-Body Connection ( This digest reports that fewer than one-in-four children in America get at least half an hour of physical activity, and do not attend any classes in physical education, dedicating their free time instead to computers, video games, and television.


    What is true for children in school is also true for adults, who are even more inclined to succumb to the inertia of a sedentary life. Studies have linked physical inactivity to increased risk of disease, at the same time indicating that even 30 minutes a day of physical exercise can have dramatically positive health effects. One study conducted by the University of Hong Kong and Department of Health (, indicated that a sedentary lifestyle was more dangerous than smoking!


    Simply increasing your physical activity will not solve the problem. The key is making the connection through full engagement in movement. This can be done through sports, dance, or even a good walkabout. However, you are more likely to make the connection if you engage in a discipline which is designed to make the Mind-Body Connection, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Aikido. In these arts movement is not just for physical exercise. These disciplines take time, but they also take you deeper into movement with awareness and finesse. A good teacher will show you how to integrate these movements into your daily life.


    For many people the Mind-Body connection is something that they virtually ignore until they lose it. The Mind-Body Connection is more than a metaphor; it is a manifesto for movement. Don’t let the demands of your schedule distract and distort you away from this connection.


    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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