For my first blog post, here’s my outlook on the importance of movement.

I’ll kick off with an interesting quote from a book that I recently read, Human Givens by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell:

‘An important human given, the need for meaning, is driving us to write this book. This ancient natural human desire, the quest to understand, originally grew out of primitive creatures’ evolving ability to move independently. Indeed, movement is fundamental to the very existence of brains, which developed primarily to control movement, to predict the outcome of movement and remember the result of past movements. Plants, by contrast, never evolved brains since they did not need to do this. (There is a tiny marine creature called the sea squirt which, in the earlier part of its life, swims around like a tadpole. It has a brain and a nerve cord to control its movements. But, when it matures, it attaches itself to a rock and stays in one place like a plant. Thereupon it digests its own brain and nerve cord because it no longer has a use for them.)’

When I came up with the idea for reviving a Sports Forum for my union UNISON West Midlands, I gave it the tagline ‘Don’t Stop Moving’.

A bit like ‘No Excuses’, on the surface this could sound like another fitness slogan that is plain offensive to those whose work makes you move very hard indeed.

I recognise that if you are laying roads, or are a warehouse worker, a shop assistant or a carer, then for most of the week you are selling not only your time, but your ability to move (without even mentioning any emotional aspects to what you do to survive).

So, let me explain in a bit more detail what I mean by ‘Don’t Stop Moving’.

It is your birthright – and all of ours – to find a way to move and act that you enjoy.

Note that I include all kinds of action in that statement. Even the late great Stephen Hawking, a dude who truly loved humans and had a great sense of humour, didn’t stop moving in his own way, though his body’s physical movement was limited by the health challenges that he faced. He spoke out passionately throughout his life on what he observed about the world, hoping to intervene in some way, and to help prevent potential catastrophy as he saw it.

One principle that I apply to pretty much every part of my life is that there is always room for improvement.

Not in an obsessive, never-satisfied way. Instead I mean this in an experimental way. I like to evaluate and assess. If there’s space for progress, press on.

If something is good, celebrate it already. But improvement could mean:

  • How can this be shared by others, by more? How can more enjoy the same?
  • How can we stretch ourselves further?
  • How can our actions have more benefit?
  • How can our actions cause less harm?
  • How can we learn more new things about ourselves and each other?
  • How can we learn more about the world and the universe?

Movement does not need to be fast or far. Constant activity is unsustainable and unhealthy. Times of relative stillness are essential.

But we are not sea squirts. Just as water is never truly still in any of its forms – even ice vibrates – we can move our bodies, and we can move with the actions of our minds.