Here's a question for you: what do you do for exercise?
I’ll give you a minute to think about your answer. Maybe even write it down.
Ok. Now, what if instead of asking what you do for exercise I were to ask: what do you do to move your body? Or, what do you do that makes your body feel good? Does that change your answer at all?
I read a quote the other day from gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer that I thought was great, where he said he doesn’t like the phrase “diet and exercise” and instead likes to use “eat and train.”
The words diet and exercise can certainly carry some negative connotation, and tend to evoke feelings of deprivation, discomfort, and unpleasantness. On the other hand, eating and training are things you do to fuel your body, stay healthy, and thrive.
(I might even take it one step further and say that instead of “eat and train” you could think of it as “nourish and move,” or whatever words resonate with you.)
But today I want to focus on the movement side of this equation, and reframing exercise not as something you are supposed to do or have to do (that is inherently boring or uncomfortable or basically not fun), but rather as anything that gets your body moving in a way that feels good to you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they really don’t enjoy running, and yet they continue to spend hours of their life pounding away on the treadmill.
Or the thought of going to the gym and getting on an elliptical machine or stationary bike sounds dreadful, and yet they force themselves through it day after day because they’re supposed to exercise and the treadmill or elliptical is the “right” way to do it.
But if you stop to think about it, do you really need to spend hours of your life doing something that is miserable for you?
There are so many other ways to get both the physical and the mental/emotional benefits of movement, and if you actually enjoy it you are much more likely to do it (and do it consistently), which is the really important part.
If you love running, run. Or don’t. Or do it sometimes when you want to.
There are a million ways to move and “exercise” and it can be fun and enjoyable and flexible. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to movement.
Personally, I love to take walks outside. I don’t remember when it started but at some point years ago the majority of my social get-togethers became meeting up with a friend to take a walk. For me it’s the perfect way to have a great conversation, get outside, move, and benefit my body, mind, and soul.
And while it certainly counts as exercise, I don’t think of it that way – I’m just doing something I enjoy that happens to also involve movement.
I also love riding horses, and it uses my whole body in a way nothing else does, but again I don’t think of it as exercise. I’m not working out, I’m just riding!
(On the other hand, I would not enjoy something like Crossfit. Or bootcamp. Or anything high intensity where there are lots of people and loud music. And if that was the way I felt like I “had” to do my exercise, I would dread it and probably not do it.)
Walk the dog. Play with your kids/grandkids/pet. Rollerblade. Paddleboard. Do yoga or tai chi. Take a hike. Get a mini trampoline and bounce around. Dance! Vacuum enthusiastically. Garden. Swim. Help someone pack and move (ok, maybe that’s not super fun). Play a sport. Play tag. Play twister! Learn to fence. Take the stairs. Take a walk. Take a few deep breaths (not exactly movement, but still a good idea).
What happens if you reframe the idea of exercise having to be “exercise” and instead simply think about how you might want to move your body today?
What kind of movement makes you feel good and doesn’t feel like “exercise”? What do you actually enjoy and want to do because moving in that way works for you? Does changing what you think of as “exercise” make it feel different for you?
Leave a comment and let me know!
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