Enjoy Exercise with Joyful Movement
Ask yourself this simple question, if you knew that exercise wouldn’t change the size of your body would you still do it? If you answer no to that question, it may be time to reevaluate your motivations for movement.
As we are nearing the end of 2020 and approaching the start of the new year, it is common for many to start thinking about the infamous “New Year’s Resolutions.” January comes around and for the first few weeks gyms are more crowded than usual, but once we enter February the crowd tends to die down. So why is that? If you are engaging in exercise solely for the calorie burning effect or out of guilt it is easy to lose motivation. What if instead of forcing yourself into a gym to lift weights or run a treadmill you did something that you really enjoyed?
Joyful movement is an approach to physical activity that emphasizes finding pleasure in the way we move our bodies. Physical activity offers a variety of physical and mental health benefits aside from weight loss such as:
Aiding in digestive support
Improvements in metabolism
Lowering of insulin levels
Enhancing muscle tone, strength, and flexibility
Helping us build motivation
Lowering stress levels
Promoting cardiovascular health
By engaging in movement that you enjoy and makes you feel better, you are more likely to move your body regularly. One of the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, is principle 9, which is about movement and feeling the difference. It implores you to shift your focus from the calorie-burning effect of exercise to focusing on how it feels to move your body. Often times it is easy to find ourselves focusing on a number whether it is the number of reps, calories, or time spent engaging in exercise. By changing our thought process from “it doesn’t count because it wasn’t an hour” or “I didn’t burn that many calories” to focusing on how our body feels after the movement, it starts to create a sustainable behavior. This shift in mindset can make the difference between going for a walk after dinner or sitting down in front of the TV.
Instead of thinking about ways to exercise, come up with ways to move your body. Ways to do this are as simple as dancing to your favorite music while you vacuum your house or walking your dogs or with a good friend. Exercise doesn’t have to be a grueling feat, limited to the confines of a weight room that leaves you worn down for days. Instead, simply get up and move your body in ways that you enjoy. All kinds of movement are valid. Some ways to move your body include:
Riding your bike
Taking the stairs
Walk your dog (or cat)
Dancing while doing chores
Short walks after meals
Playing with your children or grandchildren
The next time you find yourself wanting to move but dreading the idea of going to the gym, stop and think about what kind of movement would actually make you feel good. Whether it’s going on a walk outside to get some fresh air or cranking up your favorite playlist and having a dance party, these movements all have the same benefits of exercise without compromising your mental sanity.
Written by: Olivia Sellers, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern