By Sari Huhtala
Just about to write an exam? Attend a meeting? Working on a project? Do the cross-crawl. Who knew that the simple act of reaching your hand across your body to touch the opposite knee or foot actually is good for your brain and body, helps you focus, and improves social-emotional skills? Anyone can do it. You can just sit in a chair and keep alternating touching right hand to left knee, then left hand to right knee, and repeat for a minute or so. It bridges the right and left hemispheres of the brain, creating a pathway for information to pass between the two sides. This way, the left and right brain work together.
Babies do the cross-crawl when they become mobile and begin crawling, and it sets the stage for development to happen. Cross-crawl is simply a movement that requires the co-ordination of movement of both sides of the body, like crawling, walking and running, or laterally reaching across the body to touch the knee. They engage both sides of the brain.
Locomotor movements, movements that allow the body to travel, are produced through patterns. John J. Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, expert in neuropsychiatry and best-selling author suggests that by arranging information in patterns, like locomotor movements, the brain becomes more efficient at processing, retaining and retrieving information.
You can challenge yourself to do a standing cross crawl exercise to improve cognition, as well as balance and co-ordination. Standing feet hip-width apart, lift your right knee and raise your left hand and cross it over to touch your right knee, then lower your right knee and arm, then raise your left knee and cross your right arm over to touch the left knee, then repeat for a few minutes.
Try it daily. In fact, the whole family can cross-crawl as a start to a perfect day.
Sari Huhtala is the publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine. She is a mother of 3 adult children. She has spent over 20 years navigating a healthy path for her family, one health hack at a time, as a single mom feeding her kids healthy on a shoestring budget. She has over 15 years experience as a certified fitness specialist and personal trainer, 10 years experience as a reiki practitioner, as well as and over 25 years experience in journalism.