If you set a resolution for the new year to exercise more, you may be finding it hard. Moving more can certainly improve your physical health and protect you from cardiovascular diseases, and it also boosts your mental health and overall well-being. It is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week in addition to strength training two days each week. This can seem like a lot, especially if you are imagining crowded gyms and an endless line of machines.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore – in fact, if the word exercise brings a negative feeling or it just doesn’t sound appealing, let’s throw it out! If your brain doesn’t feel good about going to the gym or exercising, it makes sense then that you do not look forward to it. Our brains are wired to make patterns of everything. Let’s use different words and different practices to break this pattern; let’s use movement or practice, something fun! The most important thing is that you are moving your body intentionally and mindfully.
Mindfulness is an exercise in being aware of your body and your surroundings. This practice is often associated with meditation, but it can be incorporated into your movement practices – anything from walking, yoga, gardening, stretching, dancing. The key is that your movement is enjoyable for you and that it is non-judgmental. Don’t beat yourself up over not hitting the gym to move or not being able to accomplish a specific goal yet. Although it’s easier said than done, be kind to yourself. The more fun you are having, the less it feels like work and the benefits are endless.
Below are 10 ways you can incorporate movement to make your body and your brain happy this year. You may have seen some of these when we talked about fun ways to move last summer — take what you like and leave what you don’t!
- Walk for 10 minutes at lunch
- Play hopscotch or jump rope with your kiddos
- Do some yoga – free videos online are great for beginners!
- Run – at the gym, at the park, to your car, wherever
- Practice your balancing skills – see how long you can balance on one foot
- Try a free fitness class
- Plant some herbs or veggies
- Go for a bike ride
- Stretch and focus on your breathing
Written by Malarie Warren