When you think about exercise, you most likely think about your muscles. Your muscles generate the force to push, pull, jump, lift, or propel yourself through space. Along with your muscles, exercise also strengthens your heart and lungs, which are needed to keep those muscles pumping.
But your muscles, heart, and lungs are only half the picture. They’re useless unless they’re enacting a coordinated action plan.
Your brain has to tell everybody what to do. And in order to organize a coordinated action plan, your brain relies on information. Millions and billions of bits of information every second.
The information that flows into your brain comes from nerve receptors in your joints and muscles. These nerves signal when there’s a change in the length or tightness of any of your muscles, ligaments or joints.
Collectively, these nerve receptors and the brain centers that process their input are known as the kinesthetic system (they’re also sometimes called the proprioceptive system.)
Building muscle can’t be the only goal of a fitness program. You also have to sharpen your proprioceptive skills.
That’s where skill-based exercise can help. Learn something new – tennis, t’ai ch’i, or even some new weight-training moves. They stimulate the brain, not only your muscles.