Climbing Trees Improves Cognitive Skills and working memory!

According to new research, when we do activities that involve balancing we can actually improve our cognitive skills.  The research was completed by Dr Alloway and Dr Alloway at the University of Florida and it suggests that fun play activities may have a powerful impact on children’s working memory.

Balancing is a type of skill called ‘proprioception’.  Proprioception is really important to kids, because it is their ability to sense where their body parts are in the space around them.  So, they know where each limb is without having to have a look and see!  It helps to develop their motor coordination and is very important to balance.

Some proprioceptive activities include;

  • Climbing a tree
  • Using a balance beam
  • Running barefoot
  • Going over and under obstacles
  • Carrying awkward items

In this research, when people spent two hours doing one of these activities, they showed improvements in their working memory.  In fact, their working memory performance had increased by 50%.

So, what is working memory all about?  It is the type of memory that works while we are in action.  It keeps the information safe that we need while we are in the middle of an activity.  Kids who experience difficulties with their working memory might struggle to follow teachers’ instructions or following game rules.

Did you know that having good working memory helps kids to improve both at school and in sport?

Dr Ross Alloway thinks that “this research suggests that by doing activities that make us think, we can exercise our brains as well as our bodies,”... “This research has wide-ranging implications for everyone from kids to adults. By taking a break to do activities that are unpredictable and require us to consciously adapt our movements, we can boost our working memory to perform better in the classroom and the boardroom.”

We hope that more research is done in this area that measures the specific gains in working memory for children, but in the meantime it is a good reminder to incorporate play, movement and outdoor activities into your child’s schedule.

Ross G. Alloway, Tracy Packiam Alloway. (2015)