Why did the chicken cross the road? This old riddle was the opening question posed to us by Dr Graham Dodd of ACHPER at the APPEC conference in Hong Kong in November. It through me a little, here is this incredibly knowledgeable man who has dedicated his life’s work to understanding the importance of Motion in Human Development and he begins by asking about chickens… what is going on here?
What answer crosses your mind? Do you go for the same ‘to get to the other side?’ or do you have a different answer based on experience as a Chicken farmer? as a parent of young children with creative answers? or do you not really care…?
Dr. Graham Dodd is a passionate speaker and this comes through in his conversations, emails, presentations and anytime you spend talking to him. He wants people to have a greater awareness of the role that Motion takes in Human development on all levels and he wants people to use this information/data/research to make meaningful change in the spheres in which they have influence.
Research tells us that our brain development and the actual essence of being human is attributed to moving. Without motion (wiggle, roll, crawl, walk, run…) there is no life. We need to be embracing motion and movement in all aspects of our lives and the lives of those we work with and have impact on. As soon as we stop moving, we start to decline and as Dodd warns us “we are checking out before our time.” Humans should live to over 120 years old, but we don’t – we check out, we stop moving, we move into a culture of ‘sitness‘ and this is the sickness we are seeing in the current generations.
Human Development requires us to learn about our environment, our seven senses are the scouts and they bring outside world information to us. Our senses help us to shape the World around us. Physical Movement stimulates all seven senses at the same time, these collect information and deliver it to the brain for analysis, interpretation, reaction and storage as memory.
Human Motion is essential for human functioning. When we move – every organ and body system is impacted by our movement for example our blood flushes, our involuntary, voluntary and cardio muscles work and get stronger; our body removes waste products; our organs are bathed in hormones/chemicals and the elevation of activation is heightened. This higher level of functionality provides a healthier state of being. If we don’t work or use our organs and internal body systems, then we lose them.
The Brain is highly metabolically active and has intense physicochemical activity. The brain makes up 2% of the body mass and uses 20% Oxygen/nutrients you take in. Moving increases BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) a protein that builds and maintains the infrastructure of the brain. These molecules cascade down the brain and protect cell walls/nucleus of brain cells and the only way we can make BDNF increase is through BDNF. Who wouldn’t want their brain to be healthier? If we aren’t working to provide our brains with the nutrients they need and allowing brain growth and connectivity through new learning and working to keep an active body then it appears that we are setting ourselves up for decline.
Cognitive biological socioemotional processes are made up three areas: Cognition of the brain; Biological processes and the Social/Emotional processes. These three processes are related to each other and need to be balanced for optimal health. Hormones and chemicals are released during/after exercise and hormones such as dopamine/endorphins are ways we can go from sadness to happiness – a moving, happy child is one that is more likely to see stronger academic response and to see less truancy and less bullying in the classroom. Just thinking about these concepts or the way a class could look sounds so much better – and if we move our students more – this could be achieved. Research also has found that more PE in schools (so more time for PE each day and less academic time) has no negative effect on academic performance. We don’t need more academic time.
We must use the research on Brain Function as one of the supports for more Motion in our Schools. Brains benefit from Motion. So how are you going to use this information to encourage the main players in your family, home, school and community to see that we need to make meaningful change – now. What are you doing in your workplace? Are you modeling this behaviour? What are the main implications for this? Who could you team up with to make your workplace a happier, more moving space? What can we do next?
Chickens crossing the road are an interesting idea for considering the need for a shift in a paradigm – what if the road moved the chicken? what if the chicken was being chased and had no choice? We have a set of concepts ideas and perceptions held by our community about PE and Sport but what if we could shift this to let them consider the importance of Motion on student learning and on lifelong health?
Dr Graham Dodd shared these resources – books, videos and more – please feel free to share and check them out.
What would this look like? What will it look like at your school?