We’ve seen from just a few of the most recent studies just how imperative movement is to overall wellness. There’s no doubt that movement, in every form, is beneficial to the human body and mind.
But the task itself—movement, exercise, activity—can be daunting. Even some of the most experienced athletes and professionals admit that they dread training. Maybe it’s the sheer longevity of the workout; perhaps it’s the knock-out exhaustion from such intense exercise. There are certainly many reasons movement can be an intimidating task.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Movement for Movement’s Sake
When looking at areas around the world where people live the longest (and happiest and healthiest), one of the things they all have in common is that they move, every single day. By move, that could mean going to the gym. But it could also mean walking 10 minutes to the corner store for a cup of coffee, walking another 20 minutes later in the day with a friend, and another 15 minutes after dinner to admire the sunset.
The majority of these people aren’t running marathons, doing intense Crossfit routines, or training for bodybuilding competitions. Exercise—or movement—does not need to be complicated. If we build these small bits of activity naturally into our day, not only does it feel like less of a chore, but more studies are beginning to show it’s actually one of the best things for us in the long run.
As we age, time awakens us to somewhat new and perhaps difficult realities. Speed diminishes, strength is squashed, and flexibility is challenged. All of that is fine and natural. Our bodies are changing.
It’s at this point—when joints begin to ache and bodily functions don’t work the way they used to—that it’s time to form a new movement routine. One that maybe doesn’t look like a 7 mile run on the treadmill, but more like taking the stairs, jumping rope, or pushing up against walls. All these little movements matter.
Knowing all of this, it can still be tough to get started. Here are four ways you can get yourself into a movement mindset.
Just Get Moving
Start where you are.
You may be an experienced athlete, or maybe you’re just starting on your movement journey. Move in a way that works for you. Find joy in your movement. If you find joy in a structured workout of 20 squats in one minute, 15 lunges the next minute, followed by another minute of push ups, a final minute of sit ups, and a total 20-minute circuit of all these motions repeated, go for it. If this sounds absolutely miserable to you, try another form! Literally dance while no one is watching. Find a space in your home or apartment where you can toss yourself all over the room in dramatic ways for 20 minutes. If that doesn’t work, try walking outside for 10 minutes every hour. Find a way to move that you enjoy and just get moving.
Get familiar with your body.
As you move—through isometrics, dance, running, squatting, squirming—really feel every piece of your body and how it works with you to bend to where you want it. As you’re moving, connect to every single movement you can feel, from your tendons to your bones to your skin. How is each muscle engaging? What does it feel like? Take note of every arch, pop, stretch, or contraction you’re feeling and really start to own how (fully) your body works to so miraculously move.
Find comfort in discomfort.
Movement can be uncomfortable. Know, going into it, that this is part of the process; then, in the midst of the discomfort, embrace it. Acknowledge and allow it for what it’s teaching you, physically and mentally: physical discomfort is fleeting, it is finite. Use physical discomfort as an opportunity to push through, knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; that there is an end to being uncomfortable. Perhaps more importantly, though, use it as a reminder that you are alive and the body you’ve been given is beautifully capable.
Just keep moving.
As we grow and experience life, things happen: babies are born and bones are broken, among other things. These experiences have a tendency to pile up in such a way that deter us from moving. And, as we grow in age, we tend to turn inward. Our bodies enjoy less natural freedom of movement; backs arch and steps turn to shuffles. A constricting of the body and mind takes over. If you just keep moving, however, you can resist and reverse this retreating mechanism. Move daily, take up the space around you, and learn how to progressively evolve and move with your body.