When you hear the word “exercise,” do you get excited? Or do you feel waves of guilt, dread and a complete lack of motivation? If you experience the later of the two, you’re not alone.
Many of us have negative associations with the word exercise. We equate it with things we think we “should” do, but find utterly unexciting and uninspiring.
There’s no denying that moving your body is essential for maintaining good physical health, preventing disease, and living a long life. It reduces stress, detoxifies the body, promotes healthy digestion & skin, builds motivation & will power, and reconnects you to your body.
Despite all the well-known health benefits, why can it be so challenging to be physically active?
You want to take care of your body, but hate the word exercise or the thought of it. All your negative associations are keeping you from being physically active.
Despite the obvious effects it’s starting to have on your health and happiness, you’re having a hard time finding motivation to get your act together. You feel guilty for not taking care of your body. (Repeat)
It’s a vicious cycle of self-sabotage.
The good news – You have the power to stop it!
1. “Movement” is the new exercise.
Drop your story about how awful, boring, and obligatory exercise is. It doesn’t serve you or your body.
Ditch the word “exercise” for good and call it something different – movement.
Redefining exercise can help remove all the mental barriers and obstacles that are preventing you from being physically active. Make it a priority to create a strong and vibrant body that can carry you through the adventures of life.
2. Move in ways that bring you joy.
We often associate exercise with boring, repetitive activities that we think we have to do to be healthy. You can exercise and get physically fit, but be missing out on all the emotional benefits that come when you add “joy” into the equation.
When you engage in joyful movement, you are much more likely to continue doing it daily.
Why not get both the physical and emotional benefits of moving your body in ways that you enjoy. More joy means less stress, more openness to those around you, and greater satisfaction with life as a whole.
3. Find exciting alternatives to boring exercises.
Do you have a dusty treadmill sitting in your garage that only makes you feel guilty every time you see it? Sell it and get involved in cardio activities that you find fun and enjoyable such as walking, biking in the park, swimming, or kickboxing.
Want more core strength? Check out a yoga class, dig up your lawn and convert it into a garden, or take tango lessons.
There are hundreds of ways to move your body, so why suffer doing the ones you hate!
4. Be active with others.
It’s often much easier to show up for someone else than it is to show up for ourselves. Use this to your advantage.
Tell others about your health goals and desire to move more, and invite them the join you.
Let them support you in your efforts to make healthier choices. Use the momentum you create together to build more self-motivation and personal accountability.
Schedule regular walks with friends, start a bike/walk commuter challenge at work, or dedicate a weekend day to outdoor adventures with the family. It’s a great opportunity to connect with those special people you enjoy spending time with.
5. Take your movement outside.
We are creatures of nature, and aren’t meant to spend the majority of our day indoors. After a long day at work, the last place most people want to be in inside. If you aren’t into spending your workout time under a roof, head outside.
What so amazing about outdoor activities?
They cost little to no money, they reconnect you to the world around you, and you can do many of them no matter where you are.
Rain or shine, get out in the elements! Enjoy the sun on your skin, the abundance of fresh air, the beauty and freshness of rain, or the silence of snow.
Whether you are walking in the city, playing team sports in the park, or exploring a new hiking trail, let yourself experience the rejuvenating, energizing effects of moving in nature.
6. Focus on the benefits of movement.
How many times have you heard (or told yourself), “I should exercise more”?
From doctors to best friends, everyone has an opinion about exercise and what we should do to look sexier, lose weight, be successful, and get healthy.
Forget what you should do.
That word is loaded with attachments, expectations, and guilt. Not helpful in the slightest.
When you think about exercise, ask yourself: “What do I want for my life? How can exercise and movement support my goals?”
Identify the benefits of moving your body. Get clear on how those benefits will support your plan for greater health and happiness.
Maybe it’s feeling confident when you look in the mirror, or being strong enough to play sports with your kids for years to come. Maybe it’s to help yourself heal from a health condition, or to feel healthy and light in your body.
We all have different stories around exercise and the role it plays (or doesn’t play) in our lives. Whatever your relationship to it is, focus on the ways in which movement can unlock the door to the health and life you deserve.
Choose movement that excites you. Be active with others. Find creative and exciting ways to feel alive in your body. And whatever you do, just move.
Done with the gym? Check out this article for 10 ways to replace it.