There is something about the word exercise that causes an emotional reaction for many people. I find it interesting that the word movement rarely elicits the same emotional response. Go ahead, say the words exercise and movement aloud and then notice what you feel. Try “I’m going to exercise” vs “I’m going to move.”
Although the literature suggests that exercise is beneficial for both physical and mental health, I believe many people are avoidant due to the negative connotation the word exercise has developed. Perhaps you were picked last for teams in gym class. Maybe you were teased about your level of coordination in the past. Maybe you have an internal dialogue about not being athletic.
Here are some steps you can use to get moving in the right direction.
- What forms of movement do you enjoy? Do you hate sit-ups but love to dance? List as many pleasurable ways to move that you can think of. My list would include swimming, dancing, and walking in the mountains or on a beach.
- What forms of movement can you tolerate, even if you don’t love them? I can tolerate an elliptical machine and stationary bike.
- What forms of movement do you really dislike? I dislike stair climbing, core strength training, and running.
- What forms of movement have you been curious about? My curiosity list includes kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga, rowing, and zumba.
- What holds you back? Some obstacles for me are physical limitations, availability, and not wanting to feel foolish, embarrassed, or “stupid” if I’m not good at something.
Once you have the answers to these questions you can start to create a Possibility List. Then you can use the list to increase the amount of movement you do each day. It’s ok to start small with types of movement you really enjoy.
How much different would it feel to say “I get to walk in the mountains” instead of “I have to exercise?” I have said it before, words have power. Deliberately choose the word that helps you live your values in a comfortable way.