In part one of our series the “New Normal”, we explored Mindful Eating, today we are going to take you on the next part of the journey with Joyful Movement. After months in our houses, many people have found that their physical activity has been greatly reduced. For many of us who struggle to get in enough movement on any given day, the pandemic has provided an additional hurdle.
Joyful Movement provides a new way to view physical activity, aiming to find enjoyable ways to move our body. Joyful Movement emphasizes pleasure and choice while honoring that movement has a host of benefits for our health, both mentally and physically. With Joyful Movement all kinds of movement are possible and valid. If you like to walk, walk, if you like to dance, dance, if you like to run, run. There are no right or wrong ways to move.
And for those of us who only think of exercise as a means to offset what you have eaten rather than being a way to take care of your body, chances are that exercise feels more like a punishment or chore rather than something fun and enjoyable. Shifting focus toward how it feels to move your body and selecting movement that feels good and is enjoyable, can be the difference between hitting snooze when the alarm goes off in the morning or getting up and getting your move on.
To help take you on this journey, I ask you to think back to your childhood and remember an activity or game you loved to play with friends and family. Often clients will talk about playing basketball or baseball in the local park, roller skating or hula hooping with friends, racing one another up and down their street or riding bikes around their neighborhood. As children, we often move our bodies in ways that make us feel good without realizing we were “exercising”. In doing so, we can keep our bodies healthy and fit in a way that provides fun and joy. Many people hate the idea of exercise, but if you reimagine it to be something that feels good to your body and is fun, it can shift your thoughts in a more positive direction and allow you to experience and view movement in a different way.
This shift in focus gives you space to notice that movement may make you feel more energized, improve your sleep, help you to manage stress and prevent or control chronic health conditions. You’ll start to feel more joyful and might even start to show up more consistently as exercise becomes something to enjoy rather than dread. By finding activities you enjoy, you are more likely to regularly move your body and benefit in the long term.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Turn on some music and dance like no one is watching.
Go for a walk, explore a different area, street or neighborhood.
Try home based yoga, Zumba or stretching—there are many good, free online resources.
Move those hips and Hula hoop.
Go and shoot some hoops.
Jump rope or find an online boxing class.
Take your dog for a walk.
Play catch in the park.
Arrange a game of kickball with some friends and family.
Do some work around the house, clean out your closest, garden, wash your car, or even rake your yard.
Bonus: Get a friend or family member to join you!
Joyful Movement is a way to refocus on physical activity with an emphasis on finding things we like to do and how it makes us feel. Coupled with Mindful Eating, Joyful Movement fits into the framework of caring for our body in a way that feels good to you.
If you want to learn more about how to put this into practice, please schedule an appointment with one of ACPNY’s Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists.