Physical education is part of the school curriculum, but how much and what kind largely depends on the school. At PS 277 in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, children are offered a unique kind of exercise.
Miguel Gonzalez-Wallace is not normally a school gym teacher. He's a personal trainer. But he comes in occasionally to lead classes in the special exercises he developed a few years ago when he noticed his private adult clients weren't paying attention.
"So the moment that I added balance and coordination with each movement, it was like wow, the clients were focused now," he said. "They were mentally challenged."
The program is all about coordinating body movements with brain function, multi-tasking, something most people have to work at.
None of the movements are automatic or ordinary, like using closed eyes, for example.
"When you close your eyes, you see with your brain," Gonzalez said. "You don't see with your eyes. Thats what neuroscience says, so I say let's do a lot of exercises involve concentration."
It works to helps the brain make new connections, according to Gonzales.
Gym teacher Euridis Johnson, who now regularly teaches the workout, tracks the students in the gym and in the classroom.
"We have seen great progress particularly in the classroom," Johnson said.
Dr. Gregory Lombardo, a psychiatrist, is familiar with and supports the program.
"There are studies that show children who develop physical competence, balance, have improvements in their reading scores, improvements in their function academically, improvements in their ability to concentrate," he said.
The classes are obviously fun for the students, who compete only with themselves.
Physical activity is one of the tools to fight childhood obesity. Adding the brain work might make it a multi-level tool, which the kids enjoy. Last weekend, the school had a workshop for parents, teaching them some of the technique they can easily do with their children
For more information, visit TheBrainMuscleWorkout.com.
WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King
NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS
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