Have you heard about joyful movement? Because it’s kind of changing my life.
So this is me: I’m a 30-something mum of two kids, and I am not into exercise. I am not into exercise at all. The idea of committing the suggested 30 minutes a day – to do something I hate – is absolutely absurd when I have so much going on in this season of small kids.
I hate exercise.
For me, exercise is a damn chore. And can I tell you something?
I’ve got enough chores in my life, thank you very much.
Unfortunately, as a result of this, I am frightfully unfit and out of shape. My lack of interest in exercise has really taken its toll on my body, and I grieve for the basic fitness and energy level I had when I was younger.
So I’m at a place where I know I need to exercise. But I really, really don’t want to exercise.
All that said… I’m not exaggerating when I say that discovering the concept of joyful movement has changed my life.
So… what is joyful movement?
Joyful movement is the philosophy of moving your body for the sake of moving it, in a way that you enjoy. It’s about skipping the grueling workout routine that you have to force yourself through, and listening to your body’s cues as to what actually feels good.
Yep, when I learnt this, my ears definitely pricked up.
(Though if you genuinely enjoy pushing your body to its limits at the gym for an hour or two, that totally counts as joyful movement too!)
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Yet so many people are turned off the idea of it simply because they view it as hard work. Joyful movement is about shifting that mindset and encouraging people to find a way of getting that necessary movement in, and enjoying themselves while doing it.
“I hate exercise. How can I enjoy it?”
Joyful movement looks different for everyone. It might look like a bootie-shaking dance sesh in the kitchen with your kids. It might look like a team sport on a Saturday. It might look like a weekend hike. It might look like a beginner ninja skills class, or a weeknight swim at the local pool, or following along with an upbeat jump rope routine on YouTube. If your body is moving, if your heart rate is at least a little bit elevated, and if you’re feeling good – YA NAILING IT.
Joyful movement is about pleasure over pain.
So stop thinking of exercise as a punishment, or a necessary evil that you NEED to do in order to burn calories! Instead, retrain yourself to focus less on aesthetic benefits (weight loss, toning, etc) and more on naturally getting your body moving, keeping those muscles warm, those joints active, those endorphins flowing, that blood pumping, and that fitness level above zero.
Reframe the way you think about physical activity from “Ugh, I’d better exercise” to “Awesome, time to do that fun activity I’ve planned for today!”.
If you hate exercise, joyful movement is your ticket out of couch potato town!
One thing I love about joyful movement is that no activities are ranked higher or “count more” than others do. Any movement is good – awesome, even! Just listen to your body, and move the way YOU want to move. Avoid comparing yourself and your progress to others, and simply focus on the process.
What’s my joyful movement of choice? I’ve got a couple of go-tos:
1. I’ve gotten into rebounding – working out on a little trampoline called, obviously, a rebounder. It’s low impact, it can be done in short bursts, it’s fun, and it also appealed to me because it’s meant to boost creative thinking. And as a blogger, I can always use more of that.
2. My husband Chris and I have started challenging each other to do squats randomly throughout the day. We’ve kept it to times when we’re together, but I’m threatening to challenge him to a squats session in the middle of his work day in the office! While squats themselves don’t spark joy for me, the challenge sure does. Because few things have made me laugh as hard as I did when we were on the beach, face to face, doing squats while our kids played in the sand and strangers walked past gawking at us.
I’m also keen to start getting into some YouTube dance workouts that my kids can join in on, and yoga. Yep, KEEN. Not a word I have previously associated with the idea of physical activity.
Want some ideas of how you can get moving without forcing yourself to go to the gym?
Here are 40+ examples of joyful movement exercise:
1. Team sports (eg basketball, dodgeball)
2. Tai Chi at the park
4. Partner sports (eg badminton, tennis)
8. Living room dance session with your bestie
10. Wrestling with your kids
12. Chasing your dog at the park
13. Walking (I love this “happy mile” guided at-home walk!)
14. Ninja school (this is a thing where I live! Other cities must have it too!)
15. Anti-gravity yoga
16. Roller skating
17. Pole dancing
18. Scuba diving
19. Beginner ballet
20. A cheesy 80s aerobics workout video in your lounge room with a friend
21. Indoor rock climbing
22. Dancing at the club
24. Laughter yoga (if you’ve not heard of this, watch this video, because it is delightful)
25. Horse riding
26. Belly dancing
29. Beginner parkour
30. Hula hooping
31. Dance Dance Revolution with your kids
32. A walk on the beach with someone special
34. Salsa dancing
35. Boogie bounce
36. Wii Fit
38. Krav Maga
39. Perfect a dance routine from a music video you love
40. Jump rope
43. Swimming at the beach
44. Trampoline jumping/rebounding
Joyful movement really doesn’t have many limits, which means just about anyone – of any ability – can embrace it!
Whether you’re already in a good routine of getting to the gym a few times a week, or whether you’d rather belly slide down a hot gravel road than do a push-up, joyful movement can be SUPER beneficial for you. And because it’s enjoyable, it should be easy to make time for it.
Have you already embraced joyful movement? Let me know in the comments what kind of physical activity you do for fun!
PS This is somewhat related, so I’m going to jump in and drop this link to my 4 top tips for breaking your takeout habit juuuuust in case you could use them.