The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
FIVE WAYS TO MOVE THAT BOOST HEALTH, MOOD AND EVEN IQ
STAND UP STRAIGHT
Forget fancy gym equipment: bodies were built to work against the pull of gravity. Putting weight on your bones and moving stimulates the release of osteocalcin from the bones, which boosts memory and overall cognition, while compression on the soles of the feet helps blood flow around the body, potentially providing a boost to the brain. Moving – and resting – in a way that doesn’t involve collapsing in a heap (kneeling, sitting upright without leaning) also keeps the core working, with potential benefits for a strong stress response and less spongy abs.
MOVE WITH OTHERS
Our movements provide a powerful way to bond with others. Brain-imaging studies have found that students working in groups begin to synchronise brainwave patterns, and early research hints the same happens when we dance, blurring the boundaries between “self ” and “other”. So it makes sense to do movement that involves synchrony, whether it be dance or a group exercise class, to help make us feel connected to each other.
MOVE LIKE A HUNTER
You don’t have to swim across rivers, climb trees or start throwing spears, but taking your body through the kind of movements it was built for makes you feel pretty good. This could involve slow, fluid motions, like a gentle swim or taking a good stretch to prepare the joints to move. Or more explosive running, jumping and throwing, movements that release stored energy and frustrations all in one go. In times of stress, making use of our well-developed throwing skills is a great way to let off steam. There are places you can go to learn to throw axes for fun. Try it, it might just help.
The trance-inducing effect of moving to a beat was the way we got out of our minds before we had chemical alternatives, and it still works as well as ever. Running or walking, or in fact any rhythmic repetitive movement – cycling, skiing or anything that you can do well enough to do without thinking – can sometimes let you access the kind of creativity that usually shows up only at inconvenient times, like when we are in the shower or drifting off to sleep. Do it alone, let your mind wander and marvel at the weird and wonderful things that bubble up.
TRY BELLY–NOSE CONTROL
Not a new yoga move, but the ability to move your diaphragm at a rate of six breaths a minute, while breathing exclusively through the nose. Only nasal breathing allows your brainwaves to synchronise with the breath, offering a fast track to an alternative state of mind. Plus, there is evidence that inhaling deeply can help memory and focus while increasing the oxygen flowing around the body. Mouth breathing avoids these benefits and contributes to bad breath and tooth decay.