What is Physical Intelligence and How Does It Help My Child?

Understanding the different components of physical intelligence and why should parents pay attention to them.

For the longest time, we believed that raising our kids and cultivating their ability to be their best self is by developing their IQ. But that’s only one part of the bigger picture.

IQ is used to measure cognitive intelligence beyond academia. It’s the metrics that records our mental capability and includes the ability to reason, plan and solve problems. With high cognitive intelligence, we can have abstract thoughts, understand complex ideas and concepts, learn quickly and most importantly, learn from experience. 

Supporting that, we also have emotional intelligence — to address and monitor how we recognise our own and others emotions and feelings. It’s how we use the information to help us decide; our thinking and, consequently, our action. 

Emotions and feelings are intuitive, and that’s when social intelligence comes to play — when our social intellect is sharpened, we’re able to respond appropriately. We can convey well how we feel and why we feel that way while having the other person’s best interest at the centre. 

Underpinning all these areas of intelligence is physical intelligence. It is when we’re able to detect and actively manage a balance of certain critical chemicals through how we breathe, move, think, and interact. This will, in turn, enable us to stress less, achieve more, and live (and learn) more happily.

Here are three key components to think about when it comes to cultivating our child’s physical intelligence: 

Exercise: You Gotta Move It, Move It

Physical activity is probably the first thing that comes to our mind when it comes to physical intelligence. To keep our body fit and healthy, we physically exert energy and keep our body moving.

The good thing about exercise is that not only it stretches and work out our muscles, but it also releases chemicals in our body that can alter our state of mind. One of them is endorphins, which changes our mood immediately and gives us the mental capacity to make better-quality decisions.

We can teach our kids that exercise is an excellent tool to help them deal with stressful moments. Whenever they feel stuck or feel that they’re unable to get out of a challenging situation, one healthy coping mechanism is exercising.

By physically removing themselves from the stressful situation and taking a brief walk to take things off their mind, they’re able to channel their stress away and clear their mind. In other words, exercising or any other physical activities not only helps to keep them physically, but it also helps to release hormones to manage our stress better.

Nutrition: An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

What we consume directly affects our mood and ability to focus and absorb information. Hence, it’s essential for us to educate them on the importance of good food. How do we encourage more of that?

Well, rather than just making healthy options available, the idea is also not to merely restrict them or ban them from a particular food. Another thing we can do is get them to notice how they feel after having some nutritious food. 

Education for our young ones should also include empowering them with the knowledge that will help them take care of their body. That way, they would know and be more aware of how they feel and how to recuperate accordingly. 

You can also show how beneficial good nutritional food can be when they are under the weather. Our young ones will come to learn that good options such as simple homecooked meal and supplements not only help on their usual day-to-day but can also help to hasten their recovery when they’re unwell. 

The key is to cultivate and condition their bodies to expect wholesome food. 

Sleep: Are You Sleeping, Are You Sleeping? 

Apart from good, nutritious food, another critical component is getting enough sleep. As our kids are still growing, our young ones need good and sound sleep to ensure proper body and mind development.

Now, how does sleep, or specifically, deep sleep, help them? Our body takes this time to repair and build cells and hormones involved in strengthening our immune system circulating through our blood during the deep sleep period.

Some of the things to keep in mind in ensuring that they’re getting enough rest are the number of hours, quality of their sleep, timing, and consistency of the sleep schedule. These factors are critical for their physical renewal, hormonal regulation and their growth.

Another essential hormone that we need to know is melatonin or also known as the sleep hormone. It is secreted the most at night, and it’s what makes us sleepy. But for this hormone to kick in, we must not be exposed to (sun)light or even the blue light from your gadget’s screens. 

Aside from that, sleeping in and staying up late can also disrupt the melatonin cycle and upset our overall circadian rhythm — our body’s internal clock running in the background to ensure that the necessary processes and functions are running at the designated time.

Non-regular melatonin production has been linked with low cognitive performance, impairing the ability to identify and remember visual or spatial relationships among objects, development in communication skills, and deficits in attention.

Indeed, a good sleep habit can directly impact our child’s neurological development!


Physical intelligence encompasses more than just making time for physical activities as part of their daily schedule. It’s not only about sports or competition, or only exercise.

It’s a combination of having a stock of knowledge about how to care for our body, and how to optimise it to the fullest. It’s understanding how good nutrition, exercise, and restful sleep prepares our body to learn and be at our best.

For many, (physical) health is often taken for granted and neglected until it buckles and fails us. What we consume directly affects our mood and ability to focus and absorb information. Hence, mastery of our physical intelligence is integral to the maximisation of the other three intelligence areas: cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, and social intelligence.

GKA Research believes in nurturing gifted kids beyond academia. If you’re keen to learn more about how to optimise your child’s intelligence and potential, you can check out the carefully crafted programs and courses we have in store.


Ng, Daisy, 2020. Right From The Mind: Priming Your Child's Mind Today for Tomorrow's World.

What is Physical Intelligence? | LinkedIn

How to Bring in Physical Intelligence to a Team (trainingmag.com)

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