This is usually how we feel at the beginning of the year, despite the colder weather in Northern America and other parts north of the hemisphere. This gets me thinking of all the good intentions for getting more exercise which leads to increased gym membership, but not necessarily gym participation. When you think of exercise, where does your mind automatically go? I think a lot of people think that exercise needs to take place in a gym or doing some kind of extreme sport outdoors. But exercise can take place anywhere movement occurs, or at least anywhere repeated, somewhat strenuous movement that gets the heart rate going. I personally like to think of exercise as movement instead. It seems a little gentler and easier to manage than exercise. There’s something harsh about the word itself, and sometimes people think they have to “feel the burn” or experience “no pain, no gain” to really benefit from movement. I don’t subscribe to this idea.
What kind of movement do you like to do? Do you like to sway or bop around to music? How about digging in the garden or transplanting a tree? Maybe you get your heart going chasing after your little ones, especially if they’re just learning how to walk or run. All these are forms of exercise that don’t require a gym membership, or even a big stretch from what you ordinarily do in your life. Other people like to ride their bicycles to get exercise, and to blow off stress when they’re upset. I encourage you to find movement that you enjoy and that you can do consistently, and plan to incorporate it into your life so it’s almost a no-brainer. It’s so much part of your life that you feel odd not doing it.
If you have a chronic illness or chronic pain that makes it hard or uncomfortable to move, then perhaps a slow, deliberate and gentle practice like chair yoga, Chi Gong, or Tai Chi Ch’uan would be helpful. Spending time in the swimming pool also feels wonderful and can help build up the whole body, gradually. I have used those methods to re-condition myself after years of not being very fit, and I can already feel the effects of building muscle and stamina. It feels great! The important things are to pay attention to your body, stop when the pain is small rather than large and sharp, and be patient and gentle with yourself.
Whatever approach you take to movement, I hope that you make it a consistent part of your days. The benefits of exercise are already well-documented elsewhere, but let me just tell you what I notice in my clients who do some form of movement. It helps keep away the blues and worries; increases confidence; helps people focus on their bodies and enjoy being in their bodies; increase physical fitness; think more clearly; increases stamina and sometimes even libido; and makes people take time for themselves (a very rare commodity in this busy day and age). If you struggle with developing a plan for self-care and executing it, I would love to help you. Please call 661-233-6771 and we can talk about what wellness coaching can do for you.