You can't sit still for too long? Then this news will brighten your day. Did you know that physical play lights up the brain and fosters, among other things, learning and innovation?


Says who? Doctor and Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, M.D., who founded the National Institiute For Play, and Claudia L. Hilton a.o. who research exergaming in the context of Autism. Eric Jensen is an internationally recognized educator known for his translation of neuroscience into practical classroom applications.

There are many aspects to human nature that require movement in order to function at their best. Learning is one of them, innovating another. Also flexibility, adaptability and resilience are heavily affected by movement. Basically, if you want to feel better, smarter and more capable overall, you should move regularly.

Maintain a playful attitude

Movement also helps to maintain a playful attitude. Are you having difficulty getting into a play state? You should definitely get moving. Involving movement in your daily routines may help you out a great deal. Why not cycle to work, or take post-dinner walks?

Lifestyle magazines and the web are filled with life hacks to add movement to your everyday life in a fun way. 

Improve your executive functions

In 2015, Claudia Hilton and others published the results of their pilot study. They experimented with exergaming (physical exercise combined with gameplay) to improve the executive functions of  autistic children and adolescents. Executive functions are about managing oneself and one's resources to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.

The team found that exergaming improved motor ability, cognitive skills, behavioral logic, response speed and agility. Working memory improved significantly in particular. The only parameter that did not improve, was fine manual coordination. Fair enough. The disclaimer remains that this study evolved around autism spectrum disorder, but it is tempting to extrapolate the patterns to executive function in any person.

Thinking and moving

For decades, the professional and scientific communities seemed to believe that thinking was thinking and movement was movement, and each was as separate as could be. Maverick scientists envisioned links between thinking and movement, but their ideas gained little public support. Today we know better. In Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Eric Jensen shows that playfulness is not just an attribute of children that has to be converted to a learning attitude when in the classroom. Eric Jensen explains that education benefits from integrated play. He demonstrates the strong connections between physical education, movement, breaks, recess, energizing activities, and improved cognition. These patterns can be extrapolated to any area of life, professional life in particular.

Need inspiration for exergaming? Check out our selection of games in the PLAY section.

Want to find out more about the effects of movement on your mood and the connection between moving and playing? Read Stuart Brown, M.D., his book Play, How It Shapes The Brain, Opens The Soul and Invigorates The Soul.