Poi at Work? Spin Your Way to a Healthy Future!
Most kiwis know that poi is a Māori tradition. You may have seen dazzling displays in kapa haka, or even done poi yourself in primary school. But did you know there are many different styles of poi practiced all over the world? And, that twirling poi can improve your health?
Poi and your health
New research shows that poi is good for both the body and mind, and may be the key to spinning your way to a healthy future. A recent study conducted at the University of Auckland tested the physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing of older adults before and after learning poi. After just one month of poi practice, there were significant improvements in grip strength, balance, and attention. Dr. Kate Riegle van West, lead researcher, says that “these results are really exciting, especially when thinking about maintaining quality of life as we age. I hope this study will pave the way for future poi and health research, as poi is such a simple, fun, and affordable tool.”
Poi in the workplace
One of the beautiful qualities of poi is that it can be done anywhere, anytime...even at work! The Harvard Medical School advises that “some of the best physical activities for your body don't require the gym or ask you to get fit enough to run a marathon.” What’s better yet is poi doesn’t only target the body, it targets the mind and it’s FUN! Research from the National Institute for Play found that movement and play have an important role in achieving success and happiness. “[Play] lights up the brain and fosters learning. Innovation, flexibility, adaptability, resilience, have their roots in movement.” By taking a few moments to twirl a poi at work, you are not only moving and playing, but challenging both the body and mind. And remember, the brain is like the body in that if you don’t use it, you lose it!
Testimonials from around the world
People all over the world are picking up poi and giving it a go. Check out what some of them have to say:
“[Poi] wasn’t too physically demanding, yet it let me get range of motion and coordination at my own pace. It got me off the couch without hurting me, it cheered me up, it gave me a chance to laugh at myself a lot, and it was great for my confidence and mood. And SO fun.” Robbie, USA
“Being a graphic designer, I appreciate how even clumsily playing poi relaxes my wrists and fingers that spend a lot of time wrapped around a computer mouse.” Minsu, Finland
“[Poi] has made improvements in all aspects of my life. Mentally as well as physically. I’m 58 years old but feel 10 years younger than that at least. I would recommend it to anyone.” Tim USA
“I use [poi] to relax in the morning, I go to bed after practising. Its taught me how to hold my posture, flow to music, [...] shown me a confidence in myself that helps in any other situation, and brought a harmony in my household because now we’re all spinning.” Riley, Australia
Dr. Kate Riegle van West, Director of SpinPoi
5 of the best exercises you can ever do. (n.d.). Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from
Brown, S. (2014). Pattern of Play - National Institute for Play. Retrieved from http://www.nifplay.org/science/pattern-play/
Paringatai, K. (2009). Poia mai taku poi: A history of poi (a critical review of written literature on the poi in New Zealand and the Pacific). Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG.
Riegle van West, K., Stinear, C., & Buck, R. (2018). The Effects of Poi on Physical and Cognitive Function in Healthy Older Adults. Journal of aging and physical activity, 1-24. doi: 10.1123/japa.2017-0273
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