How Movement Supports Learning
Katelyn Sander

How Movement Supports Learning

Living Well...together, while apart

This bizarre, challenging school year is coming to a screeching (limping?) halt.

Already? Finally?

It’s been tough. For the teachers. For the parents. For the kids. 

As a parent of two elementary school boys, it is hard not to worry. What have they really learned? How far behind will they be next year? Perhaps not relative to their peers… but what about relative to those that passed through the same year two years ago? Or two years from now? Will they be well enough equipped to compete in the world as they grow? What about post-secondary opportunities? Career paths?

Hand wringing typically doesn’t help. So, I look again to a version of The Serenity Prayer. To control what I can. And I look again to science.

I have some control over the months ahead. And there are things I can do to set my kids up for success moving forward. For next year. And for life.

I am not an elementary school teacher. But I do know a thing or two about teaching. Some of this is based on my many years as a trainer. Some is based on my experience with my kids. Some is based on some pretty cool science:

Movement positively impacts learning.

Let’s start with some tips for the adults: When learning to perform a motor pattern, movement is not just helpful, it’s VITAL to ensure that ultimately you learn to execute the motor pattern in a safe, effective manner. Physically repeating the movement grooves the pattern – both mechanically and neurologically. Focusing on the execution of the movement as you repeat and learn it is crucial. Understanding which muscles need to be firing and where and how the joints need to line up and articulate ensures proper innervation of the tissues, smoother, more coordinated, and safer mechanics. Incidentally this will lead to faster, stronger, and more powerful movements too.

Be mindful when you move. When you train. Know what is supposed to be firing and ask it to fire. Quite immediately the movements will become stronger. Soon after the muscles and joints will become stronger. Ultimately the movement patterns will become like second nature.

The above phenomena are almost intuitive. Still, it helps to be reminded. Especially in the case where you have been performing a movement – a lift or pushup for example – using the “wrong” muscles. Reinforcing a pattern that ultimately bends your spine and joints in a direction that leads to poorer postures or leaves you susceptible to overuse injuries. These ingrained movement patterns need an override. And that requires some serious brain work.

Not as intuitive, but as important, and powerful for you, your little ones and the teens you adore, is that movement positively impacts academic learning too.

Here are my takeaways:

This summer – get your kids moving every day. Children and young adults who exercise regularly show improved memory and cognitive function. Regular exercise may support improved ability in mathematics and reading. Higher aerobic fitness facilitates better blood flow and increased neuroplastic function in their ever growing brains. 

Create opportunities for them to do a short learning task a few days of the week. A 5-minute review of a spelling test or math work sheet. Download an interesting math problem once a week. And before you have them perform the task, get them to move! Just a single bout of exercise – 2 minutes of high intensity or slightly longer moderate intensity – physically changes the brain to optimize learning potential. Your child will become more alert and potentially motivated; nerve cells are more apt to bind to one another which is the cellular basis for assimilating and storing new information; and the exercise stimulates growth of new brain cells.

You could even involve them in an unofficial experiment. Get them to try the task one day with the exercise and the next day without.

For adults and kids alike, it’s tough to focus and learn anything when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed. An acute bout of exercise can actually slow or reverse the negative physiological effects of stress, reroute the brain’s circuits to reduce anxiety, and boosts dopamine improving mood and jumpstarting attention!

With both the physical and the mental activity, focus on and praise the effort rather than the ultimate outcome.

Take the next few months to explore the power of physical activity with your kids. As they begin to embrace the habit of movement, they will experience for themselves not just how it supports their learning, but how great it makes them feel. What better lesson to teach them?!


Today’s Inspiration

“Mistakes are proof you are trying.” – Jennifer Lim

Today’s Live Workouts

Happy Monday! Ready to get moving to start your week off right? We’ve got TWO classes on the schedule for today!


Join Robert S today for a Total Body Conditioning workout! Challenge your cardio and strengthen your muscles from head to toe with this incredibly effective no-nonsense bodyweight training.

No equipment needed today.

Join Robert at 12:00pm (30 minutes) from your own living room.

Click here to join the workout.

Meeting ID: 864 5295 2847
Password: 991724


Join Robert Y today for our new Yoga Fusion workout! A combination of hatha, ashtanga, and kudalini yoga techniques. This class will engage your muscles, open your joints, calm your mind, and lift your spirits. (All levels)

No equipment needed today.

Join Robert at 5:15pm (45 minutes) from your own living room.

Click here to join the workout.

Meeting ID: 899 4248 0739
Password: 624126


Click here to view our weekly schedule.

If you have questions about our virtual live workouts, please reach out to Lauren.

Today's Trainer Moves

When we talk about mindful exercise, what does that mean? Most people think it means yoga, meditation, stretching. We don’t think about the power being mindful when we’re doing strength training. Being mindful, present, thinking about, focusing on what you’re doing when you’re doing your strength training, mobility, and any kind of movement work is such an important part of getting results in the right way in the right places.

Follow along with Meg today as she takes you through some mindful movement.

For questions about today’s Trainer Moves, you can connect directly with Meg here.

Spinning Together Again and It Feels So Good

Last week we hosted our first two Outdoor Spin Classes in the TD Centre Courtyard. It was great to see some familiar faces from all 3 of our clubs and to get back to exercising together.

Thank you to all the members that came out to participate. Based on your enthusiastic feedback, we'll be planning more classes outside in July and August, prior to our September 7th reopening.

We also want to thank all those who helped make these classes happen but a special shout out to our all-star spin instructor, Brian Malone, who led challenging but fun classes with a fantastic playlist. 

For all those interested in taking part in future classes, keep an eye out for invitations to sign-up coming in July.

Today’s Bite

Hawaiian-Style Garlic Butter Shrimp

In this recipe from Hawaiian chef Sheldon Simeon inspired by the food trucks that serve garlic butter shrimp on Oahu’s North Shore, the shrimp are marinated in a mixture of Italian dressing, mayonnaise, calamansi juice, and salt, then grilled and tossed in roasted garlic butter. The result: unbelievably sweet, juicy grilled shrimp. You can make the garlic butter in advance, and use any leftover garlic butter on pasta, fish, or toast. Recipe from Food and Wine.

Click here to download the recipe.

For more incredible recipes like this, check out our Spice of Life Recipe Book.


For the Roasted Garlic Butter

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves (from 1 head garlic)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz), at room temperature
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Shrimp

  • 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh calamansi or key lime juice (from about 8 key limes)
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 lbs peeled and deveined tail-on raw large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place oil and garlic in a small baking pan; cover with aluminum foil. Roast garlic in preheated oven until soft and light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 1 hour. Remove garlic from oil; place garlic in bowl of a food processor. (Reserve oil for another use.) Add butter to food processor, and process until smooth. Stir in salt. Let butter mixture stand at room temperature until ready to use.
  • While roasted garlic butter cools, stir together Italian dressing, mayonnaise, calamansi juice, and salt. Add shrimp, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Remove shrimp from marinade, and discard marinade. Grill shrimp until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a large bowl. Add roasted garlic butter, and toss until butter is melted and shrimp are coated. Sprinkle with scallions, parsley, and paprika; toss to combine. Transfer to a serving plate.
  • The roasted garlic butter can be covered and stored in refrigerator up to 1 week.


Do you have a “Something of the Day” you’d like us to share?! Email Meg.

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