Do You Learn Best By Doing? You May Have Kinesthetic Intelligence

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Shannon Terrell
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Highlights: What does it mean to have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? Discover how to develop yours to become the hands-on super learner you were born to be.

Has anyone ever told you that you’re a hands-on learner? If so, then you might possess bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

Kinesthetic intelligence, or ‘bodily intelligence’, is one of Gardner’s nine types of intelligence. It’s an incredibly useful skill to have and we can learn to develop it to our advantage.

We’ll explore what kinesthetic intelligence is all about and how you can develop yours to become the hands-on super learner you were born to be.

In this article we will cover:

  1. The 9 types of intelligence
  2. The characteristics of bodily kinesthetic intelligence?
  3. What it means to be kinesthetic?
  4. How to improve your kinesthetic intelligence?

Let’s begin!

What Are the 9 Types of Intelligence?

Before we hop into bodily intelligence, let’s first take a look at where this theory of multiple intelligences came from.

In 1983, developmental psychologist Howard Gardner suggested a theory that there exists a spectrum of multiple types of intelligence. 

His theory transformed education in schools around the world with the idea that there’s more than one way to learn.

In his latest work, he points out 9 types of intelligence:

  1. Musical intelligence
  2. Spatial intelligence
  3. Linguistic intelligence
  4. Logical-mathematical intelligence
  5. Bodily kinesthetic intelligence
  6. Interpersonal intelligence
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence
  8. Naturalistic intelligence
  9. Existential intelligence

Gardner identified kinesthetic smarts as one of the nine forms that human intelligence. So, what does it mean to have this type of intelligence?

This intelligence revolves around how well you can control your body with respect to physical activity and/or fine motor skills. 

If you are more of a hands-on learner (learning by doing) and perform better that way, as opposed to reading a book about the subject, then you exhibit some form of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. 

Professional athletes, dancers, and craftsmen are shining examples of such intelligence. This is due to the needed emphasis to accurately control their sense of timing connected to bodily movements.

bodily kinesthetic intelligence

What Are the Characteristics of Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence?

Kinesthetic intelligence is the intelligence of the body. Therefore, having this form of intelligence means you experience the world primarily through your tactile senses. You’re skilled at communicating with your body and have top-notch motor skills and coordination.

Those with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are movers and shakers. They learn best by doing, in a dynamic, hands-on environment. They are active individuals who are highly aware of their body movement and sensations.

A good way to learn more about kinesthetic intelligence is to learn about its inverse: logical intelligence.

Logical-mathematical intelligence is another of Gardner’s multiple intelligences. People with this form of intelligence are skilled analytical thinkers. They excel at deductive reasoning and rely on rational thinking to problem solve. 

Whereas logically intelligent people are able to draw out patterns and conclusions from abstract thoughts and ideas, kinesthetic intelligence is more concrete and tangible.

Even though these two types of intelligence are quite different, it’s entirely possible that you could possess them both!

What is a bodily kinesthetic person?

Those with kinesthetic intelligence are well suited to jobs and positions that enable them to move and practice motor skilled precision. They make excellent dancers, actors, mechanics, physical therapists, athletes, and artisans.

Having this type of intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a natural athlete. Kinesthetic intelligence can manifest itself in a number of ways. Perhaps you’re a tactile learner. Or love to craft or tackle DIY projects.

Bodily kinesthetic people helping each other up a hill

How Can I Increase My Body’s Kinesthetic Intelligence?

So, if kinesthetic intelligence isn’t your strong suit, can you learn to develop it? Absolutely. Developing a skill is all about what you choose to put your energy into.

If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.

– Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

We’re all born with different talents. But what you choose to strengthen is entirely up to you.

Here are a few things to try to work on your kinesthetic intelligence

  • Take up any form of dancing: The precision and timing of your moves in dancing is one way to really push your mind and body to learn to grow their kinesthetic abilities.
  • Practice yoga: Being in touch with your body and sensations of a great way too. Such activities also improve cognitive skills.
  • Take up a sport or exercise routine: Sports are not just great to improve your ability to be in touch with your body, it is a great benefit for your health all around. It practically is a win for your mind, body and mental wellbeing.
  • Play charades: Yes, you read that right. It’s a fun one. Basically, any form of improv acting that allows you to time into your sense of body and mind and be aware of your sensations is great practice. So next time you are asked to play charades, the more you practice the more creative and crafty you’ll be with your bodily movement.
  • Start each morning with some simple stretches: Did you know your mind is what is limiting your ability to stretch and not your actual muscles? Your muscles are actually already long enough for you to touch your toes. It’s your mind’s safety mechanisms that contract your muscles to pull back.

    Don’t believe me? Then try this experiment: Put one of your legs up on a table at a 90-degree angle and stand straight. Now change sides and do the same with the other leg.

    Did you manage to stand straight at a 90-degree angle on both sides? If so, then nothing should stop you from doing the splits. There are no muscles connected between the right leg and the left leg.

It’s your mind that is keeping your body’s kinesthetic intelligence from improving. Now go stretch! You can develop your body smarts in all sorts of ways, but the bottom line is: get up and get moving!

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Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell

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