Saturday, June 19, 2010

Martha Swirzinski on Exercise

Building Better Bodies and Brains.

What is the one thing you can do for yourself and your child that will have the biggest impact on your body and brain? If you said exercise, you were right. We all know that getting your body moving is great for your health but did you know it is just as important for good brain health? That's right, when you and your child get up and moving it actually helps increase learning.

Advances in brain research show that most of the brain is activated during physical activity. Eric Jensen, author of Brain Based Learning and Teaching, tells us that after 10 minutes of sitting our brain starts to shut down. The learner gets sleepy and learning declines. So what is one to do? Yep, that's right get your body moving. Moving “increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (“brain food”) to the brain” (Pica, Rae)

A few facts to ponder:

o “Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer's by 60 percent.” (Medina John)

o “Being active grows new brain cells.

o Balance improves reading capacity.

o Movement can help reinforce academic skills for all students.

o Play can increase attention.” (Blaydes, Jean)

The holder of a Bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation from Clemson University and a master's from the University of Maryland in Kinesiology, Ms. Martha Swirzinski has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of movement with children. She is also a certified personal fitness trainer. She currently lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

“More and more research is being developed about the rise of obesity in children,” notes Ms. Swirzinski, who teaches movement education in a local pre-school and offers teacher training workshops and customized consultations. At the same time, numerous studies continue to link increased brain function and movement, she explains. “Being active grows new brain cells!”

Ms. Swirzinski believes that every child should be afforded structured movement opportunities every day to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and become part of a lifelong regime.

It is along this vein that Ms. Swirzinski has published three children's books focused on movement. Using entertaining rhymes and charming pictures, these developmentally based books offer fun and creative ways for children to move while also providing mind stimulating activities on each page. By following the suggested activities, children can engage in 30-60 minutes of their recommended structured daily movement, as well as enhancing other mind/body skills. Designed to be enjoyed again and again, the pages of these books are filled with laughter, learning, movement and more.

To learn more about Martha and her work with kids please go to or


Karen Cioffi said...

Martha, you have a very impressive resume. And, your children's books sound wonderful--reading and movement, just what kids need.

Martha said...

Thanks for having me.
I know it sounds crazy to put reading and moving together but it can be a lot of fun

Vivian Zabel said...

I never thought about how exercise affects the brain, but that makes sense.

Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

I do know ADHD kids need structure. Exercise does help. Son is enrolled in tennis classes. Also cub scout camp the end of this month.

As a former first grade teacher I always used movement and reading together. Helped my students!

Nancy Famolari said...

Excellent advice. Exercise is so important. Children don't develop motor skills, let alone verbal skills, properly without exercise. It's something we should all worry about with our couch potato children.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I didn't realize how fast the brain starts to shut down after we sit down. Now I'm even more motivated to get up and move around more often.

Martha said...

Yep, if you get writer's block one of the best things you can do is get up and move around a bit. I tell my children they have to "feed the brain" and you do this by moving.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

"After only 10 minutes of sitting our brain begins to shut down" – that explains so much! I obviously need to spend less time sitting in front of my computer and more time moving around.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I like yoga, though because it is time-consuming, I don't get to it as often as I should. It's easy to walk. My Great Dane won't let me forget I have to do that!

Anonymous said...

Getting kids up & moving is HOT right now. Good luck combining your books with movement.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer
Children's picture Book Klutzy Kantor
Coming Soon Marta Gargantuan Wings

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments.

Magdalena Ball said...

Great information, Martha. I know you're focused on the value of movement for children but I was surprised to find out how valuable it is for older people too in terms of preventing alzheimers and keeping us alert (though the latter has certainly been my experience). Thank you!

Accountant, Author & Freelance Writer said...

Excellent interview about a topic so near and dear to my heart. We need to help our kids move. My favorite summer activity is biking. We go as a family on the bike path. It's a nice boost.

Janet Ann Collins said...

I appreciate all the appreciation of the interview with Martha. She sure has a lot of helpful ideas.

Dallas said...

Such a great post! I totally agree about the importance of being active. Nothing energizes me more than a brisk walk or jog!

kathy stemke said...

Love your facts Martha. Working out twice a week just might save me from the nursing home! Good luck with your books.