We all know moving our bodies is good for us. It helps stave off disease, both physical and mental, and helps keep our bodies functional so we can go about our lives without injuring ourselves. It helps us sleep well and can give us a boost in mood and energy.
Over the last century, movement has become less a part of our daily lives due to our built environment of technological advances and conveniences. This means many of us need to be mindful about working more movement into our days. But does that mean we need to spend an hour in the gym every day?
How can we find balance between a sedentary lifestyle and obsessing over intense workouts?
“Joyful movement” is the approach to physical activity that proponents of Health at Every Size and intuitive eating use. In short, it’s moving our bodies in ways that feel good, without the intent to manipulate our appearance, “burn” calories or “earn” food. Eating and exercise go hand-in-hand when it comes to body acceptance and establishing sustainable, healthy lifestyle behaviors.
If you’ve ever had an unhealthy relationship with food, you may also have had an unhealthy relationship with exercise. Just as you don’t have to have a full-blown eating disorder to have disordered eating, you don’t have to go to the gym for 5 hours a day to have an issue with exercise. It can manifest in much more subtle ways.
Here are thoughts and habits I encourage you to challenge and leave behind:
|Exercising to “burn” calories|
|Exercising to lose weight|
|Exercising to sculpt your body|
|Believing you must exercise at the gym to get benefits of movement|
|Adhering to an exercise regimen you don’t enjoy|
|Exercising so much that you do not feel well|
|Feeling inadequate that your body can’t perform a certain exercise, lift a certain amount of weight, run a certain speed, etc.|
|Thinking you’re too fat to … run, practice yoga, dance, etc.|
|Feeling guilty when you take a rest day|
|Feeling guilty when you engage in a type of movement other than what you think you should|
|Exercising a body part with an injury|
|Giving up on exercise if you take a few days off (or weeks, or months, or years)|
Replace them with these thoughts and habits:
|Exercise to feel good physically, mentally and emotionally|
|Incorporate a variety of movement into your day|
|Understand not all beneficial movement has to be formal exercise|
|Exercise in clothing and environments in which you feel comfortable|
|Allow yourself a day (or week) without much movement if that is what you need, guilt-free|
|Don’t use exercise as a way to “absolve” food choices|
|Choose a type of movement that feels right in the moment|
|Appreciate all that your body can do. (Even if it’s just breathing air and pumping blood)|
|Recognize the ways exercise makes you feel good that have nothing to do with your appearance.|
|Leave behind exercise media, professionals and gym cultures that makes you feel bad about yourself|
|Find an exercise professional you like to show you how to safely perform exercises you’re interested in learning|
- Why You Should Separate Exercise from Your Appearance
- How to Build a Healthy Relationship with Exercise
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