For many people the word “exercise” brings to mind sweat, going to the gym, lifting heavy things, running, or other things that require strong exertion and may cause misery. What if you could find the Joy of Movement?
Exercise can be enjoyable, maybe even fun and doesn’t have to suck. When I talk about “exercise,” I like to think about movement. How can you move your body today? There are so many ways to move: walking, running, swimming, biking, playing, dancing, rowing, skiing, hiking, spinning, climbing, flowing, lifting, stretching, and probably many others. What matters most is that you enjoy the movement. Maybe you are dancing with your kids or grandkids (or by yourself) in your living room. Or maybe you are grooving in the car as you sing at the top of your lungs to your favorite song (I might be guilty of this one…). Maybe you are walking the long way to work or are taking the stairs to your appointment. There are so many ways to put movement into your day that don’t involve going to the gym or even putting on sneakers.
Exercise only sucks when dread it. If you don’t want to do it, you may be approaching it with a faulty mindset.
Movement releases endorphins in your brain to improve your mood, so moving your body should make you happy. If it doesn’t, maybe you need to move in a different way. Maybe the thought of exercise is daunting because you feel like unless you work out for an hour, it’s not even worth your time. I have found that even 10 or 15 minutes of exercise can completely change how you feel. A few minutes of movement multiple times per day has the same benefits as 30 minutes in a row.
If exercise is not your jam, start small. Choose 1 day a week and move your body for 5 minutes. Put it on your calendar as an appointment you keep with yourself and do something fun. Once that is a habit, add a second day. Build up to an amount of movement that feels doable and that you look forward to.
If you regularly workout but it doesn’t bring you joy, and you do it because you “should,” you might want
to try another way to move. Maybe it’s yoga, pilates, zumba, tae kwon do, or some other class that you could take. Maybe you add music to what you are doing. When I practice yoga to 90s rock anthems, it brings me all sorts of joy! But that’s me. Maybe you just need to switch out your typical gym routine with something new, like ballroom dancing or rock climbing. Maybe you need to do shorter sessions or something of less intensity.
Movement is important for both your mental and physical health, but why you move is just as important as how. If you don’t like how your are moving your body, you won’t stick with it, and then you won’t reap the long term benefits. Find something you love and stick with it. Your mind and body with thank you.
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