Ever wished there were a perfect exercise to stimulate your mind as well as your body? Could cross-lateral movements be the answer?
Years ago I first encountered a program called the Brain Gym. Part of the program revolved around right and left brain stimulation through cross-lateral exercises. Since I first learned of it, the entire concept of cross-lateral exercise has evolved to include not only learning stimulation for young children mostly, but also some work has been done in the area of getting older.
As we age, the mental attributes of creativity, focus, memory and alertness will diminish. Current thinking seems to suggest that we can keep these attributes alive through cross lateral exercise. The thinking is that because the left brain controls the right side of the body and the right brain controls the left side of the body, cross lateral exercise will aid in the connectivity of the two sides of the brain to stimulate and join together the cognitive and motor functions of the brain.
How do we do cross-lateral exercise? Imagine a line from the top of the head down through the centerline of the body to the ground. Do exercises that bring your arms and legs across that centerline. Here are some examples:
- Arm swings. Swing your arms from side to side. Touch your right shoulder with your left hand, then swing your arms in the opposite direction touching your left shoulder with your right hand. Keep it up for ten swings per side.
- Lie on your back with your arms extended out to your sides, legs bent, knees up, feet on the floor. Lower your knees from side to side. After a while, as you lower your knees, swing your top leg out to touch the opposite extended hand. Then do the same thing on the opposite side. This is good for the range of motion in your hips, too.
- Cross body crunches. Lie on your back with you knees up, feet on the floor, arms behind your neck (don’t pull on your neck). Lift your upper body into a crunch and touch one knee with the opposite elbow. Do the same on the other side.
- Brain Yoga. My wife’s gym class instructor teaches the “brain yoga squat”. Cross your arms and grab the opposite ear lobe between the thumb and forefinger and pull. Lower your body in a squat, as far down as you’re comfortable and come back up. Repeat for a series of five or more up to twenty at a time.
Those are samples. There are a ton of cross-lateral exercises that you can do at any time during the day to stimulate your brain. Put your imagination to work.
So be good to your body and mind at the same time. Whether you exercise or not, It’s good to do cross-lateral movements of some sort to stimulate both sides of your brain as you get older. It is a good way to keep your mind active and alive. Give it a try, and then keep on doing it — every day. You’ll be glad you did.
Thank you for reading.