Physical movement is a key part of a rewarding, healthy, and joyful life.
It is one of the four "primary foods" I use as a cornerstone in my private practice. Primary foods are ways in which we feed our body that have nothing to do with food, food comes secondary. (The other three primary foods are: loving personal relationships, a regular spiritual practice, and a meaningful career/purpose.) When we are lacking in any primary food we tend to make it up with the use of secondary foods.
Notice that I used the term 'physical movement' and NOT exercise. This is intentional. The word 'exercise' can be an emotionally-loaded weapon. We have all been told (ad nasesum) to exercise regularly and that it will help us end our weight loss battle. And while that MAY or may not be true for some, MOST of us don't love the idea of exercising 30-60 mins a day, 5 days a week. It's uncomfortable and boring. The harsh reality is this: we can't hate or punish our bodies into being healthy and thin. You can certainly try, but it most likely won't work for anything but the very short term (if at all).
So, where does that leave you?
With physical movement. Our bodies were designed to move. They love to walk and move and stretch and play. Physical movement has all the benefits of "exercise" without all the crappy expectations. Physical movement can mean different things to different people, here are a few examples:
-WALKING! Yes, walking. Briskly and with intention. (Listening to a great podcast or some music really helps) Try walking with a friend or spouse.
-Biking. I bet you have some great trails near you. Go ahead, Google "bike trails near me" and see what comes up.
-Dancing. This can be a formal class, a girls night out, or even in your own home. Crank up the tunes and make it a daily ritual (after dinner clean up dance party anyone??)
-Yoga. A personal favorite. Groupons and local YMCA's will usually have great deals for beginners. I suggest doing this one in a group setting when possible. The one-on-one instruction and positive group energy can really enhance your enjoyment.
-Roller skating, skate boarding, rollerblading, or jumping on a trampoline. Go for it! Have fun!
-Swimming! Laps in a community pool, in a friends backyard or in the ocean or lake. Swimming literally works every body part.
-Playing sports. Community leagues are just as fun for adults as they are for the kiddos. Tennis and basketball courts are usually free to access in local parks or school yards.
-Play tag, catch, or hide and go seek with the kids. Get moving as a family.
-Hiking. (Hint, hiking it just walking but in nature and usually with some ups and downs, try it!)
-Gardening. Been looking for an excuse to start that backyard garden? Count it as your movement for the day!
-(Fill in the blank) What feels good to YOU. What movement is YOUR body craving? Light and stretchy? Calm and long? Sweaty and aggressive? Just do something, most days, and enjoy it.
Benefits of regular movement include:
- engages our lymphatic drainage system. Unlike our circulatory system our lymphatic systems has no pump, therefore it relies on our movement to "pump" the gunk out
- lubricates joints and pushes synovial fluid into "hard to reach places"
- increases your cardiac and respiratory function
- lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
- pushes glucose (sugar) into your cells, which helps with insulin resistance and can help aid weight loss (or prevent weight gain)
- helps you falls asleep and stay asleep. When you are tired you sleep better! (just don't move to close to bedtime, that can be counterproductive)
- increase libido! Nuff said.
- promotes the release of feel good chemicals (endorphins) that results in better mood and less depression. Bonus, moving in a group tends to increase the endorphin release.
You officially have permission to STOP exercising and START moving your body in any way that feels good to YOU.