“As kids, we move a lot without thinking, but as grown-ups, we think too much without moving.”
This quote comes Erwan Le Corre the founder of MovNat. We all know that kids move: They play, they run, they jump, they crawl, they spin, they climb. They literally cannot stop moving until we manage to grind it out of them. This is a disaster.
Meanwhile, adults do the opposite. We sit around all the time. We go to the office and plunk down on our butts. We barely find the time to go to a gym in order to walk on a glorified hamster wheel and lift some heavy pieces of metal once or twice.
But we adults also simply spend too much time in our heads thinking and planning and never acting. And in doing so—in thinking without acting—we’re actually less cerebral. The person who thinks and acts is more in tune with their brain than the person who thinks and over-thinks and ruminates and over-ruminates.
Ours is a neuromuscular system. Brain and body are one. You can’t separate them. Can’t do it physically, can’t do it metaphorically. They are one.
Because “moving” isn’t just about exercise. It’s also essential for cognitive function and mood. In evolutionary terms, the initial function of the brain was to allow creatures to move – thinking was the icing on the cake. There is a type of sea squirt that, in adolescent form, pulses through the ocean looking for the perfect rock to settle on for the rest of its life. Once found, it then autodigests its brain as it is no longer necessary, which seems to say something about the hazards of being a couch potato.
We all need to move often and well so that these patterns become ingrained in our nervous system, and that we do them intuitively. We should go for long walks as a habit. We should take the stairs rather than the elevator, and stand, rather than sit, on the tube not as a conscious decision but as an instinct. It is important to make an effort to build this structure into our society, especially as labour-saving devices are decreasing the absolute need to incorporate movement into our lives. Therefore, it needs to be a conscious choice.
Exercise aside, there are loads of ways of incorporating more movement into our daily lives. Here are just a few:
- Standing on one foot whilst brushing teeth. Also, try brushing with your non-dominant hand.
- Stand on one leg to put on your socks.
- Squat or half-kneel whilst doing things. Even sitting on the floor is better than folding ourselves into a chair, as we will naturally shift around a lot into different positions.
- Practice different ways of standing up from lying down or seated.
- Pick up things off the floor with your toes.
- Do calf raises when washing dishes or other chores.
- Get off the bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
- Take the stairs or at least walk up the escalator.
- If you arrive early to an appointment, walk around the block instead of sitting down and waiting.