“That was wonderful! All my life I have hated exercising, but I love what we just did!” the woman in the bright pink sweatshirt exclaimed.
“You never need to ‘exercise’ again,” I told her. “Just find ways to move that are fun for you. And do them every day.”
Our conversation took place at a Health Expo geared for people over 50. For twenty minutes I led a group of men and women of many sizes and fitness levels in shaking, shimmying, wiggling, breathing and stretching- my simple and life-changing blend of yoga, dance, chi kung and… silliness! People laughed and giggled, let themselves feel ridiculous and afterwards looked far more vibrant, awake, connected with each other and happy.
Although I sometimes hear from my clients and students that they don’t like to exercise, it is almost always easy to help them discover ways they love to move.
We all know it is vitally important for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing to be active. Exercising is one of the cornerstones of any self-care program.
But we sometimes forget that for much of human history there was no such thing as exercise - there was just lots and lots of movement. All day long people moved as part of their regular lives.
Today our world is set up to encourage, not movement, but lots and lots of sitting. Unlike our ancestors, most of us don’t have to move around very much to meet our basic needs for food, shelter, companionship.
We all know we should exercise and for many people the very word ‘exercise’ is loaded with guilt, shame, frustration
So, skip the word and go for the joy.
Recently one of my clients emailed to say she was having a great week because she had started “moving for the joy of it.”
In her previous coaching session she told me that as a child and young adult she been very active, healthy and fit but somehow in the past decade she had moved less and less and now exercise felt like a chore.
“I know I should exercise,” she said sadly, “but somehow I just never make myself do it.”
I invited her to let go of any sense of obligation and even let go of the idea of ‘exercising’ and to find ways to move for pleasure, play andand joy.
She set the daily intention: Today I will find ways to move with joy.
And she did. She discovered the more she moved- with joy- the better she felt and the more eager she was to keep moving.
In a very short time she reclaimed her body’s natural love of movement.
Your body is made to move and, in its natural healthy state, loves movement. To wake up your natural love of movement, just let your body play.
Do you love to exercise? Fabulous! Keep on doing it!
If you don’t like the word exercise or if your exercising ever feels boring or like a chore, begin to explore ways you can move with joy.
To me, walking on a treadmill in a gym feel like drudgery and punishment to and I love walking outside!
The mid-afternoon break I took just now- striding, sprinting, meandering, breathing in the fresh green fragrance, leaping over the logs on the forest trail- left me feeling free, energized, strong and joyfully aligned with my nature-girl self even as I settle in for a few more hours at my computer.
How can you begin to free yourself from the tyranny of exercise and let yourself just play?
What would moving with joy be to you … right now?
How would your body love to move?
Because moving with joy feels great, it can quickly become a positive addiction. While you might be able to force yourself to stick with an exercise routine you don’t like, when you move in ways that feel fabulous, no forcing is needed. Your body will purr and smile and say “More, please. Let’s do this again… and again and again.”
You never need to ‘exercise’ again! Just start moving for joy.
I’d love to hear from you,
Leave a comment below.
What difference do you feel in the words “exercise” and “move for joy”?
How does your body love to move?