In her book Smart Moves, Dr. Carla Hannaford tells us why we must move to fully activate our learning potential.

I personally have written articles and e-books on the topic of full body exercise to enhance flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, energy levels and weight loss. These exercises can be performed by 5 year olds to professional athletes.

Both Dr. Hannaford and I are talking about training the nervous system in an effort to enhance mental and motor functioning. I come at it from an exercise point. I teach how to use your hips and butt to train your brain for smooth, coordinated movement patterns. Ultimately, this will allow the performer of the exercises to move his or her body as it is intended to move and the brain to function at a higher capacity. This produces an energetic, happier, healthier and and more stimulating lifestyle!

Did you know approximately nine million children over the age of 6 in the US are considered obese and 2% receive help for some type of learning disability? Let me tell you what you as parents can do to help.

I am now going to lay out 5 tips that you and your children can start doing today that will make all the difference in their motor and mental functioning. You will be doing what my slogan from my website promises; “training and teaching today …. educating for a lifetime”.

1) I recommend that your family instill dynamic flexibility into your day. These are exercises designed to enhance balance and flexibility of your muscles and joints. You are actually moving while you are stretching, not the “hold for 10 seconds” variety of the past.

Two good examples of this type of stretching would be: 1. a walking lunge, with rotation to the leg that is forward, alternating legs with each step 2. The “inchworm”, in which you start in a push up position, walk your feet to your hands, keeping your legs straight and then walk your hands back to the push up position … like an inchworm. These dynamic stretches improve balance, strength, coordination and most importantly, flexibility.

2) Combine family time and play time. While on walks with the family, instruct the children to skip, hop, balance on 1 leg, “tightrope walk” the curve or bear crawl in the grass (like follow the leader). This will simplify the child’s’ nervous system and be fun at the same time. Let each family member take turns deciding the activity; this will bring out creativity in your children.

I realize the youngger the child, the shorter the attention span ranges to be. I recommend letting them lead the activity but gradually steer them back to more exercise related tasks.

3) Have your children drink plenty of water. A half an ounce of water per pound of body weight would be good. If your child weighs 70 pounds for example, then 35 ounces a day would be a good start. Unfortunately, a lot of children, and adults, are dehydrated a big percentage of the time.

Adequate water intake will allow normal muscle, brain and other organ functioning. It will help their alertness, creativity, social skills and success in schoolwork.

4) Have your children eat 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day. Breakfast is a must! Get them up early if that’s what it takes! Meals should include proteins, carbohydrates and 8 ounces of water or juice. A good rule of thumb is for every gram of protein, have 3 grams of carbohydrates. Make sure you include fruits and vegetables, which are carbohydrates.

If you, as parents, follow this eating pattern, the more likely your kids are going to adhere to it as well. Healthy snacks include fruits, nuts and cereals. Bon appetite ‘!

5) Limit TV to 1-2 hours a day … for starters. Children’s brains go into a lower level of functioning while watching TV, a “passive” mode if you will. Active thought and reason do not occur.

Children’s (and adults’) brains need to be stimulated by the world and people around them. Their brains, muscles and joints will be much better off when the TV is turned off and they are moving or at least engaged in participatory conversation! I know, I know, I am a fan of reality TV too; but, please give it a try!

6) Bonus: Use the internet to learn more about exercise and how it can improve your health and mental status. You and your children can learn from the exponential amount of information available on the internet. This can also be good, quality family time.

As you can see, all of these things can be done very easily and instantly. Introducing them to your family will be fun, maybe a little challenging, but, definitely rewarding.

The bottom line is to get your children moving to stimulate their body and brain. It is the best thing you can do for their physical and mental health!

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”