Did you move today? Invariably, the answer to that question is yes. As my students say when I ask them to stand still, “Actually, Mr. Orphanides, we are always moving. My blood is moving, my eyes are moving, I’m breathing, my heart is beating… we actually can’t stand still.” Well, they are right!

And, along with these perpetual and life-supporting movements, we, as human beings, move in many other, sometimes subtle, ways as well. Whether we are sitting or walking, running or performing a skilled task such as typing, shooting a basketball, sustaining a strong Warrior I or walking a tight-wire spanning the towers of Notre Dame, we are engaging muscles, senses, reflexes and movement patterns that we developed largely in our childhood — and that we need to use and exercise regularly in order to stay healthy, attentive, alert and mobile.

Many of the movements we make in early childhood, such as playing on our tummies as infants, crawling, standing and taking our first steps, lay the foundation for many of our capacities for learning later in life. The “old fashioned” childhood activities of wrestling, spinning, tumbling, rolling down hills, and climbing trees not only create healthy neural pathways for “academic” success, but they also allow us to develop the confidence, self-regulation, decision-making powers and sense of our relationship to other people that are key factors for healthy social development (often called “executive functions”).

In terms of those often imperceptible movements the students mentioned, the movement of our physical bodies also stimulates the healthy circulation of the two major fluids in our body: blood and lymph. In fact, it is said that breathing and the movement of our muscles are what keep the lymph moving through our bodies, a key aspect of our immune system. It is no small wonder, therefore, that we often describe the activity of a graceful athlete or dancer as being “fluid.” We need to move those vital fluids through our body to keep our bodies functioning and to keep our mental and emotional “bodies” in good health as well.

With all this said, there is a growing concern among many people who study movement, as well as educators, parents, doctors and therapists, that we don’t move our bodies enough in today’s world, and this concern is especially pressing for young people. While we cover great distances in our planes, trains and automobiles (and can communicate with someone thousands of miles away instantaneously), we spend an increasing amount of time in front of our screens and behind the wheel of our cars.

Everyone reading this most likely knows everything listed above, and yet, we are all so busy and often over-burdened by our responsibilities in today’s world that we just can’t find the time or energy to move or to help our children move. It can be a struggle to get outside for a run or walk or to get on the treadmill or yoga mat.

If this is indeed a challenge for you, I will offer the same advice I have been given and give to others who are striving to start a meditation practice. 2 minutes. Engage in an intentional movement for 2 minutes each day, and, if you have children, engage them as well. Spin your arms around. High step your legs. Go up on tiptoes ten times. Pushups. Moonwalk. Hip-hop dance moves. It’s a start, and it will grow.

And, hopefully, you will be laughing or at least smiling. There are even studies that show that you can build muscle by imagining yourself moving! Start there if you need to! You could even start right now.

Written by Movement Teacher and Therapeutic Movement Specialist Charlie Orphanides