Joyful Movement

Exercise or rather “movement” is an important part of self-care. However, there seems to be a misconception about the intensity and frequency of exercise. If it is not hardcore, is it effective? If you are not sore for three days afterward, did you even try? Here is the bottom line…any time you move your body, you are exercising, and you will benefit from it. Movement does not have to be extreme to be effective. Ideally, the movement you do will also be ENJOYABLE!

Being sedentary and not moving is (as my mother would say), “the kiss of death.” Now exercise and movement can look very different from one person to the next, but you do not need to spend 5, 6 or 7 days a week in the gym pushing your limits to feel the benefits. Also, you can start small if moving is not something you regularly engage in.

I will admit that I am not a gym person. I don’t like going, and I don’t find working out on machines enjoyable; however, I love to move my body. If going to the gym works for you or you enjoy hardcore workout sessions, please keep doing that, but my guess is that many people don’t actually enjoy it, but they do it because they feel like they “have to do it that way.” Not to mention, some hardcore/fad exercise programs have damaging health consequences when someone pushes themselves past their limits.

There have been times in my life where I have exercised to the extreme and as a form of punishment for what I ate or as an attempt to control my weight and guess what eventually happened? It backfired. It was not sustainable, it was not enjoyable, and it was not healthy.

Many of us have jobs where we sit at a desk (myself included), so for us, we have to be aware of this and make sure we are moving during the day.

The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps per day. Who actually gets that many steps? Do you know how many steps you get on average? Current research supports that if you are not getting at least 5,000 steps a day…you really need to reevaluate your lifestyle.

I recommend using the pacer app in your phone, wearing a pedometer or Fitbit to see on average how many steps you get. Keep in mind, with the pacer app, it will only track steps when you are carrying your phone, so depending upon how often you carry your phone, you may not get an accurate read on your steps. Wearing a pedometer or a Fitbit will give a more accurate reading.

I received a Fitbit as a gift, and it was eye-opening to see how few steps I was getting at my previous job. There were some days that I would only get about 1300 steps…that’s it…all day. Yikes! It is very easy for me to obsess over things like a Fitbit (which is not healthy, so I don’t wear it daily, but on occasion, I wear it for a couple of days so I can see how I am doing and a get a sense of my movement. In my new role, on average, I hit 5,000 steps a day.

Because I don’t like going to the gym, I have to get creative to get my exercise in. I love dancing. Growing up, I trained professionally 6-7 times per week, now as an adult, that is not realistic, but yet, I still love to dance. So I have found (you have to look) adult dance classes in the area at convenient times for me. I take a tap class for adults and Zumba. Perfect, I am getting the benefits of exercise while enjoying it! Although in the winter months, I find it particularly hard to attend these classes, therefore I make sure I have some options and space in my house to exercise. Lots of local studios are beginning to offer virtual workout classes, which is very exciting and there are tons of free options on YouTube to follow along with.

However, I had to seek these opportunities out. So if you want to dance, look up local classes on www.zumba.com or search for a dance studio in your area. If you want to swim, contact the local YMCA, etc. Find the movement you want! Don’t just sit on the couch and expect that it will find you. Bring a buddy along with you as that has also been proven to help motivate us to exercise!

There are many known benefits to exercising such as:

  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Improved memory
  • Increased productivity
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Better executive functioning
  • Improved immune system
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Possible weight loss
  • Increased balance
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved cardiovascular function

That’s a lot of reasons to move!

There are lots of other ways to incorporate movement into your routines such as cleaning the house, yard work, and gardening. I recently read a life hack that said to do 25 jumping jacks every time you go to the bathroom…hey, whatever works!

What do you do for movement? Comment below to share with me what you like to do for joyful movement?

Best,

Dr. MC

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