Unlocking the Power of Brain-Body Rhythm:
Enhancing physical performance and fostering Einstein-like thinking
Our natural rhythm is a key factor in both physical and mental excellence. It can even help us move like pro athletes and musicians—and think like Einstein. This includes better muscle activity to improve posture, gait, speed, strength, and endurance, and prevent and remedy pain and injury. As the brain is the body’s drumbeat, especially the cerebellum, which also manages cognition and emotion, improving rhythm can help expand the mind through more learning, memory, and creativity. Many of these issues are discussed in my new book, B Sharp!
Unfortunately, too many people have not sufficiently enriched or maintained brain-body rhythm. We normally develop it early in life, beginning before birth. But an inadequate environment or a brain short-circuit can disable or prevent good rhythm, with body-wide physical and mental consequences. If we didn’t develop very good rhythm by adolescence, it’s possible to do so as adults.
We can always improve rhythmicity and reap more health and fitness benefits.
This can sometimes be accomplished by simple listening. As previously discussed, a basic biofeedback method of marching—just walking or jogging to a metronome’s beat—is very effective. Many are initially unable to perform this routine well.
Exposing the brain to more music in specific ways can also help enrich rhythmicity. This works best when we choose the songs being heard, meditate on them, and especially physically participate through tapping beats, dancing, or playing.
However, listening to background music, such as radio or in stores, or in situations when someone else chooses the songs, may not result in as many brain-body benefits.
While good rhythmicity plays an important role in social bonding, mood, listening, and communication, there could be negative effects when its lacking. These may have social and behavioral implications, with associated learning, speech, and attention problems.
Incorporating more natural rhythm into our day is easy. Consider a quiet lunch while listening to a favorite song or album or watching music videos instead of TV. This can also reduce overall stress. Even more potent is sometimes listening to unfamiliar songs, which further enhances the brain through the neurological impact of surprise (playing my song “Rosemary,” or the new Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” are examples).
Even a five-minute rhythm break can work wonders. The one I developed, as other research shows, is not unlike an aerobic workout with significant cardiovascular benefits, combined with a deep brain meditation to help balance the autonomic nervous system. Who doesn’t have five minutes? Some people use this five-minute break more than once a day—read about it here.
Everyone can benefit from more rhythm, and the 5-Minute Break can help.
Humans combined the power of music and movement from the beginning. Like muscles, we must maintain rhythm by using it. Doing so is not only joyful but therapeutic, improving both brain and body.
(For a good clinical research paper see Davis IS, Futrell E. Gait Retraining: Altering the Fingerprint of Gait. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2015.09.002.)