It’s often said that us humans only really use 10% of our brains. Whilst this has been widely debunked and exposed as a myth, it is true that we all have the potential to increase the amount of our brains that we use and, therefore, become more rounded and developed people.
One brain, two sides
You are probably aware that your brain has two sides, the right and the left. These two hemispheres have different functions, responsible for language, speaking, visual and spatial awareness, face recognition, logic, maths abilities and much, much more. By constantly repeating actions, doing similar things day to day and staying within comfort zones, our brain uses the same processes and therefore the same neural pathways as always. It is only by attempting new things, be it mental or physical activities, that we can increase the functionality of the brain and expand our use of it.
Another thing that many people will know is that the left side of the brain controls the right side of your body and the right side of your brain commands the left side of your body. Furthermore, down the middle of the central nervous system in each person is what’s called the midline, and by moving one side of your body across the midline to the other side you will engage both sides of the brain to control the movement.
For example, swinging your left arm across your torso to your right side would do just this, requiring the left and right hemispheres of the brain to work. Therefore, by incorporating a series of exercises that require such cross-lateral movements into fitness regimes, it’s possible to work not just our muscles but also the brain.
Yoga would be a fantastic example of a cross-lateral workout as many poses demand body parts to be moved across your midline and around your body with good hand-eye coordination. Simple exercise drills would include bending forward and swinging your arms in front of you to touch your right toes with your left hand followed by left toes with your right hand. Alternatively, you can pull your heel up to your buttocks and hold it with your opposite side hand and then switch sides.
For more intense exercise drills, you can pick up a kettlebell and do a figure of eight between your legs or twist your torso with weights being passed from one side of your body to the other.
Check out this video for a couple of other cross-lateral exercise ideas that can be done by everyone, whether it’s without weights or with plenty of resistance for the more seasoned exercises amongst you.