Exercise really can make you smarter!
Have you heard about the midline? If you look at yourself in the mirror, pretend that there is a line that runs from the top of your head to your feet, cutting your forehead, nose, mouth, and rest of your body in symmetrical halves all the way down to between your big toes. This imaginary line is referred to as the midline. The important part about the midline is that by age three or four, the left and right side of the body should able to move across it fluidly and into the space of the other side of the body. This is important for many daily tasks such as brushing your hair and putting on shoes and socks, not to mention the role it plays in sports for activities such as swinging a baseball bat or passing a soccer ball.
How is the midline involved in learning? Physical tasks aside, some research has shown that the ability to cross midline is actually tied to reading, writing, and just learning in general. Why is this? As for reading and writing, these tasks require that your eyes move into the space of the other quite frequently as you scan the page from left to right. For learning in general, it comes down to the fact that the left and right side of your brain are responsible for controlling different functions in your body. The left side of the brain is responsible for language, sequencing, analysis, logic, facts, words, and mathematics while the right side is responsible for imagination, creativity, intuition, visualization, feelings, rhythm, and arts. The comprehensive process of learning involves you actively crossing from one side of the brain to the other. For example, before calculating a math problem, you must visualize it, or if you cannot control your feelings towards a certain subject, it could interfere with how well you are able to learn it.
So crossing the midline really can make me smarter? Sort of. For some people, when crossing the midline is difficult physically, it is also difficult mentally. Thus, just like anything, a person should practice crossing the bodily midline to improve physically, and doing so may even lead to improvements with crossing midline in the brain, establishing better learning and test taking behaviors overall.
What are some simple crossing midline activities? A couple of helpful exercises to start with are: Place your arms out to the side in a “T” formation and break the “T” to take your right arm over to touch your left shoulder then reverse the motion with you left arm and right shoulder. Continue alternating this motion 10 times. Another activity is while in standing, bend yours arms and march one knee up at a time to cross your right elbow to left knee then reverse with left elbow and right knee. Again, repeat this 10 times on each side. If this is too easy in standing, begin marching forward while continuing the pattern. Practicing the grapevine (karaoke) with your feet is also a very common way to work on crossing midline.