Why is it important to move our bodies?
Being active helps you to stay healthy, happy, and fit. You can enjoy the benefits of a healthy life in a way that is fun and suitable for your lifestyle. There are many different ways you can get active and finding the activity that suits you is an important first step. You may enjoy walking, running, dancing, surfing, going to the gym, swimming, yoga, pilates, hiking, playing a team sport or a number of other activities.
A lot of us have a negative association with the word “exercise”, and that’s okay. Try reframing that word and the experience associated with it as movement, instead. The idea is really about moving our bodies in ways that make us happy, feel good about ourselves, and as a way of showing love and care to ourselves.
Whatever activity you choose, some of the benefits include:
- Improving your strength
- Better endurance
- Boosting your confidence
- Increasing your energy levels
- Increasing flexibility and mobility
- Helping you to manage stress and anger
- Increasing your self-esteem
- Helping you sleep better at night
- Improving metabolic rate which prevents weight gain and allows you to manage a healthy weight
- Clearing your head if you have a lot on your mind
- Meeting like-minded people through the new activities you’re doing
Suggestions for Moving Your Body More
Everyone has a different level of physical fitness and finding a pace that is right for you is important. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful; it can be fun and require minimal organization and money. In fact, it’s best if you find something you actually enjoy so you can stick with it.
Remember, this is an act of self-love, not an act of punishment.
If you have medical difficulties, struggle with an eating disorder, or are feeling pain when you move, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about what type of activities are best for you.
Try not to do too much too fast. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation, but not be able to sing while you are exercising. Remember that any amount of exercise is beneficial. You could start by using the stairs instead of the escalator or going for a 5 – 10 minute walk after dinner. As being active becomes easier, you can increase the time and intensity of your activity.
Try not to become discouraged if you find yourself becoming pretty sore after starting your workouts. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become and the less you’ll feel sore. Think of it as really putting the work in, showing your body how much it means to you, and use that as an encouragement to keep going.
Speak to Yourself Nicely
When you first start moving your body consistently, or you’re not seeing changes fast enough, it can be really easy to get down on yourself. The shame and blame game starts and it can keep us from continuing our movement journey. Try not to let that hold you back, though.
Every time you move your body, or you do an activity that you love, praise yourself. Thank your body for how it supports you and helps you do the things you love. You are going to be with yourself for the rest of your life, and there’s no better time to start working on loving yourself.
I know it’s not easy changing the way we talk to ourselves. If you’re struggling with this, check out our article Challenging Negative Self-Talk to learn more. You are worth it!
Get Your Friends Involved
It can be more inspiring, helpful, and fun if you exercise with a friend. Having someone else join you may increase your motivation and give you the opportunity to catch up socially. You could go for a walk, run, or swim together or you could join a group activity together.
Routines Help Us Stay Healthy
With the busy lives we lead, it is sometimes difficult to include exercise and movement into our routine. A great way to start would be to set aside a time in the day specifically for the movement of your choice, such as before or after dinner or before school or work. Other options include incorporating movement into your daily life, like walking to school or work instead of catching the bus.
Make Sure it Brings You Joy or Satisfaction
If you choose something you enjoy, being active and exercising can be a fun part of your day. You may want to kick a soccer ball with friends, play tennis, go dancing with a group, listen to music while walking or running, or taking your dog for a walk. Playing a team sport or joining a group activity could also help you make new friends while still being active.
If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll want to do more of it. Your body needs movement to run at its absolute best, and so does your mind! What is your “why” (your reason for moving) and how can you make it the most enjoyable for you?
Where to Go If You Want to Start Getting Active
Your Local Gym
If you can afford it, try going to a gym. You’ll have access to all the equipment you need to get started and can keep you from the distractions at home.
A YMCA or YWCA is a great place to go to work out or join a health or well-being program. Unlike a typical gym, the YMCA is catered towards activities and programs for young people and families. You could go just for a swim, take a class, and join a longer-term program or any number of other activities.
Planet Fitness is also a great option. They are really affordable and are set up in most larger cities around the United States. Their slogan revolves around them being a “Judgement-Free Zone”.
Your school might also have a gym you could have access to outside of school hours. Check with them to see if this is available for you where you live.
Parks & Nature Centers
There is a good chance your local park has organized team sports. Joining a community team could be a fun, casual way to exercise and play your favorite sport. If you are worried about your ability to play the sport, these sorts of teams are usual more relaxed than a school or college team.
Parks also sometimes hold events such as tournaments, festivals, yoga lessons or other activities that could be a different way of moving your body. They can also be a great place to go for a jog, ride a bike, exercise alone, hike some trails, or play a sport with your friends.
Many states require physical education in schools by law. Taking a physical education class at school is a great way to get your daily exercise and start forming healthy exercise habits early on. If physical education is not a requirement, you may want to take a class anyway, especially if you are too busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities to incorporate movement into your schedule.
Another great way to exercise in school or college is by joining a team. You can do something you love, make a new group of friends, and have fun all while increasing your health! At the college level, many universities have fitness and recreation centers with a ton of options for exercising. Stop by your college’s fitness center and check out everything you could do there!
There are endless resources online that can help you explore the method of movement that will work best for you. YouTube offers a lot of free videos you can follow along to, including free HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, dance tutorials, yoga sequences, videos on how to use proper form while weight lifting and so much more. You can also check out other platforms like Instagram and TikTok by searching relevant #hashtags.
Your Own Home or Neighborhood
You don’t have to pay a bunch of money for a gym membership to stay active. It can simply start at home. Depending on your interests to be active, be creative in finding ways to enjoy those at home or in your neighborhood.
Maybe this looks like a walk around town after dinner, or playing with your dogs outside for longer. This could even look like you dancing without a care in your bedroom with your headphones on.
You don’t have to feel pressured to leave the house to take care of yourself. Using the internet as a tool can help you find something that works well for you to do at home, no matter how busy your schedule is.