Enjoyment, fitness, physical health, and sports performance are the things that often come to mind. However Dr John Ratey said “We think the point of exercise is to build muscles and condition the heart and lungs. The point of exercise is to condition and build the brain.” Performance psychologist, Gayelene Clews delivered her third presentation at the Barker Institute this time focussed on Brain Health – Finding the Balance. The talk centred around the connection between movement and brain development and how this is one mechanism describing how various modern impacts on our lifestyle have severely affected our wellbeing. Physical movement supports the development of neural infrastructure and 'a dense neural infrastructure' with a good balance of important neurochemicals makes us happier and smarter.
The evening began by building on the well established theory of a growth vs fixed mindset. Gayelene described the environments that were most likely to facilitate brain chemistry to allow for growth to take place. Parents resonated with descriptions of their children and children nodded along when she described their parents. Gayelene offered suggestions as to why various emotional reactions can occur and how to better facilitate them.
Particularly challenging for all Australians, but especially our young people, is the deliberately addictive nature of apps, games, and even wearable technology that turns passions into obsessions and compulsions. Billions of dollars is spent trying to capture their brains so they log on once and never log off. The importance of parents and carers establishing good habits in their children cannot be understated. Gayelene offered tips for building these good habits around technology, sleep and study, concluding that family dinners, technology free (and presumably study and sleep free), can be one of the best things families can do to support young people in each of these areas.
To read more of Gayelene’s work, visit www.wiredtoplay.com