Exercise – Finding the Joy and Listening To Your Body
“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do not punishment for what you ate” – author unknown
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. What type of exercise? This is completely up to you. The “right” type of exercise
is whatever movement works best for you and your body. Not sure what that is? Read on for some food for thought.
Exercise is good for our mind, body and soul; when it is used to rejuvenate the body, not exhaust or deplete it; when it helps alleviate mental and
physical stress not contribute to or exacerbate it and when it provides genuine enjoyment and pleasure, not pain or punishment.
Exercise is often equated with weight loss. And we are bombarded with messages from the fitness industry encouraging
us to “transform our bodies”, once again making exercise about the size and shape of our body instead of enjoyment. It’s understandable
that many don’t find exercise the least bit fun when it’s all about beating the body into submission. Think back to when you
were a kid on the playground. I bet you weren’t thinking about how many calories you were burning or how tight your abs were getting as
you mastered the monkey bars or won a game of hopscotch. How might you get back to that experience with movement? Think about
what activities make you feel playful and energized and do those.
Think about exercise as a way to communicate with your body and to become more sound in your mind and soul. Let your body guide
you. If you listen to your body rather than external messages (or perhaps your own internal messages), you can
work towards making exercise a healthy AND enjoyable part of your life.
So how do you start listening to your body and start enjoying exercise?
First, know your limits. If you never liked running, you probably won’t like it now. Remember exercise is supposed to be enjoyable
not punitive. If you’re not sure what else to do, maybe try a strength building class or a yoga class to see if group exercise gives you a sense
of enjoyment and confidence.
Second, start small. The worst thing you could do when starting to exercise is injure yourself – not only does that take you out of
the game physically, but it also depletes your confidence in ever starting to exercise again.
Third, if you do feel pain, don’t try to push through it. Of course, if you are pushing yourself you are going to be tired and out
of breath (that’s normal), but if you feel actual physical pain, stop. There’s no sense of joy or accomplishment in injuring yourself just to finish
Fourth, working out with a friend (or friends) can be incredibly inspiring, fun and dare I say “silly”. It forces you out of your
comfort zone and may make you more aware of some of your strengths AND weaknesses.
Lastly, remember that exercise comes in all types of movement. It can be taking a walk around the block, going for a run with a friend,
playing tag with your kids in the yard, taking a yoga class or trying a new type of class. If we continue to feel obligated to exercise, we will
continue to feel let down when we don’t and hate it when it doesn’t feel like enough. This season, enjoy exercise and have fun with it!