Physical movement and well-being can have a direct and positive impact on mental health, cognitive functioning, and memory. Physical movement can include anything from strenuous activities like exercising to actions as small as fidgeting and hand use. Using movement as a method for improving well-being has the potential to heighten quality of life for anyone including people with Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, and ADHD. Reducing stress and anxiety while stimulating the mind can decrease the severity of symptoms that coincide with certain conditions as well as alter the experience of living with a disorder or disease.
Elevated intensity and endurance of muscle activity including exercise has been proven to directly impact the brain and mental function through physiological changes. Alterations in metabolic processes and the autonomic nervous system changes and effects hormone levels, the immune system, neurotransmitters and endocannabinoids. The American Academy of Neurology released research that found that exercising at least twice a week improved thinking and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment, and has the potential to slow the rate at which Alzheimer’s or dementia progresses. Exercise also improves cognitive thinking by boosting mood, improving sleep quality, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Hand use and fidgeting is movement that also improves mood, memory, and concentration, but not in the same way. Fidgeting can be a self-stimulatory behavior and a tool to increase focus and the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Fidgeting is a behavior sometimes seen in people that have sensory-related conditions such as autism. Certain textures and other sensory inputs can be calming and used to counteract anxiety to enable better focus and feelings of contentedness. Gardening, knitting, fixing things, and playing an instrument are all examples of hand use. Active and functioning hands initiate thinking that can often be creative and joyful. Such activities are great ways to modify depression and decrease stress.
Twiddles® are therapeutic sensory and memory support aids and an excellent tool for developing fine motor control and skills, and improving strength and dexterity. Twiddles keep youngsters and elders active and stimulated as they move their hands, engage with fidgets and explore Twiddles’ many textures and features. Follow Twiddle on Facebook (Twiddle Therapeutic) and Instagram (@4Twiddle) to learn about more about Twiddles, and to stay informed with our blog.
- buildpt. “Exercise May Improve Your Memory.” Ideal Motion PT, 2 Feb. 2018,
- Rotz, Ph.D. Roland, and Sarah D. Wright. “The Body-Brain Connection: How Fidgeting Sharpens Focus.” ADDitude, ADDitude, 9 Feb. 2018
- Shafir, Tal. “Using Movement to Regulate Emotion: Neurophysiological Findings and Their Application in Psychotherapy23.” Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers Media S.A., 23 Sept. 2016