One of the best ways to take good care of your brain and optimize cognitive performance is to get daily physical activity. Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals that help maintain healthy cells and blood vessels in the brain which contribute to better mood, sleep and overall cognitive performance - just to name a few (see Harvard Research paper)!
If you're not sure what exercise to do or how much you need, you can consult the Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans and start small; turn on some music and sweep the kitchen, go for a walk, play tag with a friend, and if you want to get a great workout and have some fun, try out a group class! Every little bit of movement counts toward your goal and better brain health and performance.
There is plenty of research to support aerobic exercise and its positive impact on the brain, but did you know that there is also fascinating research on how drumming affects the brain? Drumming accesses the whole brain - right and left hemispheres - and creates new neuronal connections throughout. Here are a few areas of the brain that are activated while drumming:
1. Nucleus Accumbens & Amygdala - Involved with the emotional reactions to music
2. Prefrontal Cortex - Controls behavior, expression, and decision making.
3. Motor Cortex - Involved in movement while dancing or playing an instrument.
4. Corpus Callosum - Connects both sides of the brain.
5. Sensory Cortex - Controls tactile feedback while playing an instrument or dancing.
6. Auditory Cortex - Listens to sounds; perceives and analyzes tones.
7. Hippocampus - Involved in music memories, experiences and context.
8. Visual Cortex - Involved in reading music or looking at your own dance moves.
9. Cerebellum - Involved in movement while dancing or playing an instrument as well as emotional reactions.
It's easy to see aerobic exercise and drumming have amazing benefits individually, but when both of these brain-boosting activities are combined into a fun DrumFIT workout, the compounded benefits are undeniable.
It's fascinating to see students who may struggle to pay attention in class get behind an exercise ball with some drumsticks and watch them transform into focused, well-behaved, rhythm machines! Teachers often see these benefits carried over to "academic" classes after a DrumFIT workout - better mood, focus, engagement, creativity and overall cognitive performance. These benefits are undoubtedly connected to the powerful effects of combining aerobic exercise and drumming for a complete brain and body workout!
Our brains, like our bodies, require care and maintenance and exercise is one of the best prescriptions for optimal physical and mental performance. Whether you pick up some drumsticks and play along with some friends, or just go for a brisk walk, know that you are doing your body and your BRAIN good!