Fitness Friday: Finding joy in movement
Physical activity and movement are critical components of health and can prevent a myriad of health issues. For those that read my fitness posts, you are aware that my approach to movement does not follow the conventional move-to-lose-weight or move-to-look-like-____ emphasis. Weight and looks should not be the primary motivator.
Why? Because our culturally-determined appearance standards are limiting and leave out many; fixating on the body you want rather than the one you have pulls you from this moment, which is all we ever really have; and you lose touch with how you feel. We cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, or well, at least (this is the tenet of mindfulness). When we are (hyper)aware of what we look like or thinking only of the body we wish we had, we are not in our body enough to feel our body. We have exited to pursue other mental activities, namely perseverating on some body ideal that may or may not even be possible.
Instead, try staying with your body when you exercise. What does it feel like to move your body a certain way?, What sensations and emotions arise?, Can you let go of distracting and look-oriented thoughts? Can you sense into calm and the release of stress? Or perhaps how movement energizes you? What about joy?, are you in your body to notice if you feel joy when exercising?
When engaging in physical movement, many people are externally motivated, by weight, by looks, by how others perceive them. External motivation often does not drive exercise long term. Coaches, trainers, therapists, and clients have to figure out how to capture and curate internal desire for exercise. One way to do that – joy.
Exercise can, perhaps should, feel joyful. When was the last time you felt joy during movement, or has physical activity always been a chore? If you are in joy (‘enjoy’) while moving, that emotional response will facilitate future desire to move (internal motivation).
How can you find joy in movement? Revel in what your body can do, instead of fixating on what it can’t do (because of physical, time, financial limitations). Use activities you love to encourage movement. For example, do you love to read? If so, try reading on a treadmill while you walk (wearing the emergency clip) or listening to an audiobook during exercise. While you might not be mindfully moving here, you are moving and you are in joy. Use social connection and engagement. Often times, when we move with friends, we experience more enjoyment and positive anticipation of future work outs; gyms often try to use social connection to their benefit by remembering client names, engaging participants questions about their lives, and even offering socialization time (like family gym night). If you don’t have a social network that is up for exercising or don’t feel safe given social restrictions, try exercising (running, walking, biking) with your dog. Green exercise is another way to add joy to your workouts. Have you noticed how moving outside just feels different? That’s because it is. Our nervous systems are attuned to nature, we feel less stressed when outside, we workout harder outside, we feel better after exercising outside, and we are more likely to continue exercising in the future when exercise is outside.
What are your favorite ways to find joy in movement? Does joy play in to your internal motivation to move? Or do you rely on external motivation to meet your movement goals?
Interested in learning more about green exercise? Register for my webinar with The Conservation Foundation examining that topic on June 2nd 1pm central, here: Webinar Registration – Zoom
You can also workout with me, virtually or in-person, as a one on one client or as part of a group. I offer yoga and mindfulness for sensuality once to twice a week, schedule-depending. Check the events page of my website for updated information.
Wishing you all joy in all you do. Happy #FitnessFriday.
The above content is written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), RYT 500, sexuality counselor and educator (in supervision); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. The picture is from Pexels. To work with me or for more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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*Please note that none of the above information is specific medical advice, but is meant as educational information only. If you have concerns about your health, please contact a trusted healthcare professional*