Tag Archives: brain

Windmills: Increase Your Brain Power

What are Windmills? 

Windmills strengthen and tone the entire body, making them a popular warm- up exercise in physical education, yoga, and martial arts.  Windmills are also good for improving brain power. Moving opposite limbs across the body engages the brain and integrates brain hemispheres. 

What are the Benefits?

Windmills stretch your arms, shoulders, core and lower back. Windmills are also a core exercise as you use your core muscles to twist and return to an upright position.

Cognitively, windmills strengthen the brain. Windmills require your child to cross midline, which refers to being able to reach across the body with arms or legs. Midline is an imaginary line down the center of your body. Being able to cross midline is an important developmental skill that is linked to reading and writing.

What to Say.

  • Stand up tall in Mountain Pose with your feet apart. 
  • Take a deep breath in.  Stand up taller. 
  • As you breathe out, bend over and touch your right foot with the left hand. 
  • Breathe in as you stand up.
  • Time to switch sides. Keep going!

Windmills are a fun and easy brain break. They can be done almost anywhere and best of all they are building brain power! Want more easy ways to build your child’s brain? Join us for an aerial yoga class or read Mindfulness for Children.

The Brain Boosting Benefits of Vitamin D

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a not only a vitamin, but a hormone as well.  As a hormone, it helps with the absorption of calcium, which supports strong bones and muscles. It boosts your child’s brain by activating genes that release brain chemicals that play a role in mood and cognitive processing such as dopamine and serotonin. 

Why is it important?

Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including major organs, such as the brain and heart. Our immune system also needs vitamin D to function.  It fights diseases and even reduces the likelihood of developing the flu. When vitamin D is deficient your child’s brain functioning is compromised, which may result in psychological disorders such as depression and ADHD. 

How does it boost my child’s brain? 

Vitamin D is linked to serotonin.  Serotonin is referred to as the “happiness hormone” for a reason.  An optimal level of serotonin is of significant importance for the brain and mood.  If serotonin is low depression and mental health issues may occur.  Research has also linked vitamin D with executive functioning (higher level cognitive skills needed to regulate behavior), memory, and cognitive impairment.

Ways to naturally boost vitamin D:

  • Spend time in the sunlight. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the sun is one of the best ways to receive this nutrient.  Science tells us vitamin D from the sun is present twice as long in body than vitamin D from supplements. 
  • Eat fish.  Wild-caught fish is rich in vitamin D.  Salmon is especially great for the brain and contains about 50% of the daily recommended intake.  Other types of fish also contain vitamin D such as shrimp and tuna. 
  • Eat free-range eggs.  Chickens who have access to sunlight produce eggs with more vitamin D. 
  • Exercise. Harvard recently showed that vigorous exercise can boost vitamin D. Aerial yoga can be vigorous…

A healthy diet and plenty of sunshine are always the best ways to derive vitamin D. However, if your child is deficient, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement is needed. It’s always important to have levels checked with a blood test to confirm a deficiency and talk to medical professionals about the risks and benefits of supplements before giving your child any kind of supplement. Sunshine and running are free brain-boosting ways to increase vitamin D and best of all, they don’t require blood tests!

References

Hogberg G, Gustafsson SA, Hallstrom T, et al. Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta. Paediatrica 101(7), 779-783 (2012).

Tolppanen AM SA, Fraser WD, Lewis G, et al. The association of serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 and D2 with depressive symptoms in childhood-a prospective cohort study. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatry 53(7), 757-766 (2012)

Holick MF. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Am. J. Clin. Nutr 80(6 Suppl), 1678s-88s (2004).