Movement, not exercise
Do you exercise and love it, or struggle to find the will to get up and do it?
Do you feel excited to do the activity, or feel fear and anxiety?
Do you exercise somewhere you love and feel safe, or somewhere you feel you are constantly being watched?
Do you do it because you want to, or because you feel you should?
I feel so sad for people who don’t enjoy their exercise. Not that you have to do the traditional definition of ‘exercise’ but if you do you should at least enjoy it. All too often people moan about dragging themselves out for a run, or to the gym, or to a class that they detest.
And don’t even get me started on people who say they have to do it because they had something to eat earlier that they feel they now need to burn off. Let’s just get this straight – exercise is not a punishment and you never have to earn food or burn calories.
Exercise (or move!) for the joy of it
I like to think of it as movement, not exercise. Movement is good for you. It’ll keep you supple and keep your muscles in a good functional condition. It keeps your bones healthy and helps with circulation. It helps you regulate your energy levels and your sleep. It has a multitude of benefits throughout the body that you wouldn’t even think of.
Movement should be done for the sheer love of it. It should be something you can’t wait to do, something you do because you enjoy the way it makes you feel. Remember when you used to jump on a trampoline as a child, or when you used to dance around your bedroom with a hairbrush as a microphone.
Do you still dance around the house when music is on, or has that disappeared from your life? What about when you used to kick a football around the park, or ride your bike so far that you got lost and had to find your way home (oops! Navigation never was my strong point!). What about when you used to go to the swimming pool and splash around, just having fun?
Where has the joy gone? Where has the fun movement gone? Has it been swapped out for sweaty gym classes or the dreaded spin bike?
If you don't enjoy it, don't do it
If you don’t enjoy it just don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. What is the point in half killing yourself because you think you should be doing it? Life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t enjoy.
Find a way to move that you do enjoy. It’s going to be each to their own. One man’s pleasure is another man’s torture, but that’s fine. The world would be a dull place if we all liked to do the same things.
Even if you really truly love the activity you have chosen you should not be uncomfortable in that space while exercising. If you are in the gym and feel like people are criticising you for example that’s not ok. The reality is they’re probably not! They’re far too busy checking out their own ‘guns’ and their abs in the mirror, but whatever the reality if you feel awkward and can’t get past that then you are not in the right space for you.
Find a friendly class where you’re welcomed with a smile when you walk through the door. Go jogging with a friend you love to catch up with. Do some YouTube videos with your partner or kids if they’re up for a giggle and a bit of movement with you. Or just do something alone if you like your own space.
Find something that you love to do, something you are excited to start, excited to go to, in a place that makes you feel joy, with people you enjoy spending time with.
If the by-product of this movement just happens to be health benefits then that’s amazing, but it shouldn’t be the main reason you choose your movement. It doesn’t have to be overly strenuous or make you feel like you’ve been trampled on by a herd of elephants the next day.
Ideally something that gets the blood pumping and the heart rate up a little for the health benefits, but you do you and if you are finding a way to move every day that’s got to be better than spending your days on the couch.
Move in a way that makes you feel fantastic, empowered, strong, free, mentally stronger, excited. Walk, dance, run, skip, ride, play, lift, breathe, stretch, connect. Which of those words makes you feel good and like you’d find happiness doing them?
What movement do you do that makes you feel amazing? Have a look at opportunities locally. Is today the day you try something new?