Finding Joy Through Movement
I have a multiple choice question for you:
A) “I dread exercise.”
B) “I have to exercise.”
C) “I get to exercise.”
D) “I want to exercise.”
First of all, which of these sounds most enjoyable? Probably C or D, if I could guess. Now which sounds most relatable?
If you answered “A” or “B,” you’re definitely not alone. Only 23% of Americans hit their CDC-recommended level of physical activity (150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, plus two strength training sessions) each week, and far fewer actually look forward to or enjoy exercise.
Numerous scientific studies have tried to pinpoint why so many of us dread moving, even when activity was such a vital aspect of our ancestors’ success as part of the human species. Those studies have come up with a variety of reasons, including attempting to avoid discomfort, feeling too busy, lacking a safe environment, and having no idea what to do or how to do it.
This hits home and all feel very valid, especially during the pandemic.
From about age 13 to 25, I thought of fitness as a form of control and, often, punishment. If I ran enough, I “deserved” a slice of cake later that evening. But as I’ve learned to transfer all that energy and brain space I spent tearing myself down to build myself up, I’ve been able to transform those calorie-tracking brain cells into intuition.
It’s not just been related to working out, either; listening to my gut translates to every area of my life:
“Where is my energy best served?”
“What career moves feed my soul?”
“What movements make my body feel best after completing?”
During COVID-19, I’ve finally landed on a few exercise forms and a routine that has me feeling powerful, grateful and capable. Now, instead of running myself into the ground because “I have to exercise,” I look forward to running from my bed to my yoga mat at home to lift weights because “I want to exercise.” And even better, I hop on my bike and breathe the fresh outdoor air because “I get to exercise.” What a gift, and it feels great to feel strong and good about taking up space.
My wish is that we all find some way, at some time, to move and feel at home in our bones.
The way we phrase things, talk about ourselves, think about our bodies and move them matters. If we train our minds to love moving—and in turn, love their home—my guess is that we’ll be closer to answering “C” or “D” above.
Karla Walsh is a freelance writer and restaurant brand manager. To follow along with her latest fitness and food adventures, follow her on Instagram @karlawalsh and feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.