Did you know that walking can improve your cognitive skills? That strengthening your muscular core reduces anxiety? That light stretching can combat a whole host of mental and bodily ailments, from stress to inflammation? We all know that exercise changes the way you think and feel. But scientists are just starting to discover exactly how it works.
In Move!, Caroline Williams explores the emerging science of how movement opens up a hotline to our minds. Interviewing researchers and practitioners around the world, she reveals how you can work your body to improve your mind. As lockdown throws us back on our own mental and physical resources, there is no better time to take control of how you think and feel.
©2021 Caroline Williams (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK
This was a short listen that accompanied me on my walk to and from the pool yesterday and while crocheting today. I heard about it through New Scientist, reading the first paragraph of Williams’ article in this weeks magazine online. I bought the book on the strength of those paragraphs, and I also got this week’s magazine yesterday on the way back from swimming. The magazine article is a much condensed version of the book.
I found that there was very little in this book I didn’t already know or understand on an intellectual basis, although I didn’t know of the researchers and others she interviewed. I probably picked the information up from general reading. What this book does is bring all the information together in one place and provide simple, easy to follow advice to get the best from the research findings. The interviews are fascinating, and I especially like the idea of ‘natmov’, or natural movement training – training where people re-learn how to use their bodies like a human should by playing in nature. I think it’s something children do naturally, but school and time knock it out of us.
My only issue comes when Neurodivergent people are mentioned – dyslexics, ADHDers, Autistics specifically in this book – and people with mental distress. We have long known that researchers tend not to believe us until they ‘discover’ things for themselves. Like the link between neurodivergence and connective tissue disorders. Williams mentions the high incidence of EDS and IBS etc. is ND populations but somehow makes it sound like it’s our fault for not moving enough. She interviews a researcher who has hypermobility and then goes on to say ‘while some people with these conditions don’t like to be called disordered…’ the intonation suggests she thinks we are.
Same with mental illness – we just need to get out and about more. Maybe I’m interpreting it harshly, the author does have a history of mental distress herself, so maybe she’s just passing on the tone of research articles she’s read and the researchers she’s interviewed? She doesn’t consider any of the sociological factors that affect mental health, like increasingly unstable employment, housing difficulties, social fragmentation and loneliness.
I have shared this book with my equally autistic colleague, because the trauma section might come in handy for her mentoring, and our groups, but I warned her the author was ‘a bit neurotypical’. So, it comes with a warning to ND readers for that.
Over all, if you want some encouragement to get up and move a bit more but aren’t sure where to start or why bother, this is a useful book.