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How to Move with Joy

Forget everything you know about exercise for a minute. I know the word “workout” strikes fear into the heart of many and conjures up images of clanking metal weight machines and seconds ticking down on a treadmill, misery and the like, but it does have to be that way. Unless you want it to, of course.

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Moving your body is meant to feel good. How do you like to move? Do you love kayaking, or hiking, or riding your bike around town to save gas money? Perfect, do that. The idea of “joyful movement” is foreign to many, so here’s how to love moving.

In my experience, it boils down to three things: Motivation, finding a form of movement you love, and making sure you have time to do it. Those first two can be reversed if you want; moving just because is great, but I like knowing how it’s helping me too, because that helps a little more with #3.

1- Finding movement you love. What did you love to do as a child? What do you dream of doing now? Make a list of active things that sound fun to you, and try them all until you find something you can do regularly, or just keep trying new things. This doesn’t have to be things like rock climbing or white water rafting (though it could be) it could be something as simple as walking, hiking, and playing tag with your kids. For me, I prefer walking, hiking, and yoga. I have a list of more adventurous stuff, but these are the three that require the least money and equipment and I can do them regularly.

2-Find time to do it– You’ve heard the advice to “schedule” a “workout” like you would any other appointment, but  that just feels like another thing I have to do and that makes me want to do it less. I find routine works best, so I take a walk or hike first thing every morning, and I try to do yoga before bed. Find a routine that harmonizes with you day, so you’ll start looking forward to it, and your family will also get used to the routine and hopefully respect it.

3-Motivation– sometimes, the weather is awful or I just don’t feel like working out. There’s a difference between feeling ill and feeling lazy. If I’m lazy or the weather is awful, sometimes I just go to a gym or do a workout video. It’s never my first choice, but I know if I don’t exercise, I get cranky and just feel “off”, so I usually do it even if I don’t want to. Acknowledge what exercise does for you, and go above the “It keeps me skinny” crap. Instead, focus on how movement gives you alone time, or helps you manage stress and anxiety, or how you have so much more energy when you take your morning bike ride.

Let you exercise be fluid to suit you. Some weeks, I like intense cardio and even throw in some weight lifting and others, I just want a brisk walk followed by some stretching. If you’re going through a stressful time like getting married or moving, now is not the time to train for a marathon. Let exercise complement and improve your life, not take over it. The last thing you want to do is stress over something that’s meant to be enjoyed.

What sort of movement brings you joy?