I was reminded this summer of an important lesson by way of a foot injury that stopped me from running. This injury gave me the opportunity to reflect on what kind of movement brings me joy. It had me thinking outside of the box and trying new things. Now, I have to admit, I did miss the running and still find sometimes I am frustrated as I start to slowly incorporate running back into my routine. But I was also able to further explore my yoga practice, I swam more and took time to get back to my childhood roots. It doesn’t matter how old you are, swinging on the swings at the park can always bring about a butterfly in the tummy and a subsequent smile on the face!
Sometimes we forget (me included) about our youthful side and analyze our lifestyles with a critical eye. Especially during transitional times, such as going from Summer to Fall, statements such as these appear in our conversations:
- “I’ve got to get my butt back in the gym”
- “All those beers and barbecues went straight to my gut”
- “I’m so fat and disgusting”
Not the kindest words to be saying to ourselves or about ourselves, yet we all have our moments of negative self-talk. What if we reframed our view of exercise? What if we looked at it as a gift rather than a way to burn off those extra calories from dessert? It may sound odd coming from a personal trainer but you don’t need to go to the gym to get the benefits of movement. Contrary to popular belief, little bouts of activity throughout the day can produce positive results for your health.
All you need to do is move. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even sweat-inducing. If you’ve found yourself struggling with returning to or starting exercise, here are some tips for incorporating activity with a sense of wonder and positivity:
Stop calling it exercise! For some, exercise does not seem like a pleasant thing to do. It conjures up images of tight clothing, someone yelling instructions with complicated choreography, sweaty, uncomfortable and not fun. Does that sound about right? Don’t let those ideas stop you from moving. Take the pressure off by not allowing society’s standards or fancy gym ads influence you one bit. Start slowly by first figuring out what makes you intuitively want to move.
Reflect on your childhood. What types of activities did you enjoy back then? What’s stopping you from doing those now? Is there an opportunity to play more and get back to those adventures? Being an observer of natural play being experienced by your children or grandchildren may help you get back to that place. You might find that you are so inspired that you’ll even join them.
Find joy in movement! What activities put a smile on your face? What doesn’t feel like exercise? Maybe it’s a walk with nature, turning on some tunes and dancing around without a planned routine. Be creative or try something new, whatever is going to pass the time and leave you feeling better than when you first started.
Run or walk because you love to; lift weights or do yoga because you enjoy the feeling of improved strength, garden because you enjoy watching something you cared for grow. Whatever your mode of joyful movement is set aside the judgment. Move because you WANT to not because you HAVE to. Joyful movement doesn’t need a goal, timeline or measurement. In fact, if movement is to be a permanent lifestyle change, it just needs to be FUN.