You may be seeing the term joyful movement getting shared more often on social media, but what is joyful movement and how can you find yours?
Joyful movement is an approach to exercise that focuses on moving your body in a fun way that feels good for your unique body and transforming your mentality with exercise from something that you “have” to do to something that you look forward to doing because it helps you feel your best.
Oftentimes, what we see with our Mindful Nutrition Method members is that if they’ve struggled with their relationship with food, they’ve also experienced challenges with their relationship with exercise and moving their body. Many of them had a tendency to over-exercise, view exercise as a way to “make up” for eating “bad foods,” and struggled with the all-or-nothing mentality of doing strenuous workouts daily or nothing at all.
We’ve also heard from them how exercising isn’t something they enjoy doing or look forward to in their day.
By finding a way of moving that feels good for your body and is enjoyable, you can transform your relationship with exercise, develop more consistency with moving your body, and reap all of those incredible health benefits of exercising and finding your fitness routine.
In this article, you’ll learn simple steps you can take to find your joyful movement.
Why Joyful Movement Is Important
Before we explore how you can find joyful movement that works for you, let’s explore some of the main benefits of this approach to exercise.
Improves Your Health
We all know that exercise has countless benefits, from helping you maintain your unique balanced weight, balancing blood sugars, reducing risk of heart disease (3), reducing risk of high blood pressure, decreasing stress and anxiety, improving mental health and mood, strengthening bones, improving sleep, and increases in overall longevity and quality of life, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to those powerful health benefits of exercise, joyful movement can help you make more nourishing food choices and feel great in your unique body too, and that’s why joyful movement is so important!
Supports a Positive Relationship with Exercise
Putting your focus on finding feel-good movement, rather than exercise as a form of punishment, you’re able to cultivate a more positive relationship with exercise where you’re choosing to move because it’s enjoyable, feels good in the moment, and supports you in feeling your best afterwards too.
It can take time and patience to get to this place with exercise, but finding a few ways of moving your body that feel enjoyable is a great first step to mending that mentality.
Builds More Consistency
Another benefit of joyful movement is that it makes it so much easier for you to be consistent, and we know that’s so important with any practice to support your health and wellbeing.
When you create habits — whether it’s the food you eat, the way you move, or any other practice — that feel enjoyable, you’re going to look forward to making that choice for yourself regularly.
How to Find Your Joyful Movement and Build Your Practice
Use these steps as a guide for how to find your joyful movement and build your practice.
1. Identify the Types of Movement That Would Feel Best
The very first step in the process of creating your joyful movement practice is to identify the types of movement that feel best for you.
Some of you may have an idea of what movements you like, but for many people, you may need more time to try different exercises and see what feels best.
When thinking about this, it can be helpful to think about the different overarching categories of movement and the types of exercises in each.
- Aerobic: such as cardio kickboxing, dance, trampoline, cycling etc.
- Strength: such as pilates, yoga, bodyweight, lifting, etc.
- Activity: such as hiking, climbing, kayaking, SUP, team sports, etc. (note: activity-based movement is such a great option for finding enjoyable ways of moving your body, but it may not be the most accessible option for your daily life depending on where you live, so you may consider that your weekend movement and have different movement for during the week)
A great place to begin is to try a variety of workouts with this new perspective of looking for joyful movement and seeing which ones feel really fun for you.
Start easing yourself into it by trying one form of movement a week to see what feels great for you.
Be patient with yourself and commit to trying new exercises until you find something that feels right — I promise there’s something for everyone no matter your current fitness level or age!
2. Connect With Friends (or Make New Ones) for Added Fun and Accountability
One of the best tools to tap into when trying to create a new habit is the power of an accountability partner for two beneficial reasons.
First, a study showed that those exercising with their spouse, friends or co-workers were happier and enjoyed the work out more than when they were alone.
And the second benefit is from the accountability aspect. Another study found that the support someone had received from working out with a partner made them more likely to continue the habit of working out on their own.
This is why connecting with others is such an important aspect of any of your healthy habits, but especially movement.
We encourage our members inside of the Mindful Nutrition Method to reach out to friends or make new friends who will commit to supporting them on their journey. A great example of this is finding friends who will exercise with you a couple of days a week.
That’s another reason why I recommend the obé Fitness platform because they have features that help you do exactly this! You can work out with up to 7 friends at a time with the Workout Party feature, making it easy and convenient for you to connect with friends virtually and move together.
If you don’t have anyone in your life currently who would act as your accountability partner, obé has an incredible community on Facebook, where you can connect with other like-minded people who share the same goal of moving their body in an enjoyable way!
You can also find workout classes locally that are convenient for you and your friends to attend as well. There’s no right or wrong answer here, so find what works best for you and your workout partner and what feels best for both of you.
3. Ease Into It One Step at a Time
Just as the all-or-nothing mentality is common with nutrition, it’s also common with exercise.
You do not need to jump from not exercising at all straight into exercising everyday.
obé’s classes for example, range from 10 minutes to 45 minutes, giving you options. This can give you the flexibility you need to get started and still have options to move your body, even on days where you may not have as much time.
Before jumping into your joyful movement practice, ask yourself how many days of exercise would be manageable to get started with (remember, you can always increase more after a couple of weeks of consistency), and how much time do you have to carve out for exercise, and exactly when is the best day and time each week to do that.
Answering these questions will help you ease movement into your routine without it feeling stressful. Remember, it’s all about taking the time needed to build consistent habits. It’s not about perfection or going “all-in.”
4. Add More Convenience
Another way to build more consistency with your joyful movement practice is to consider how you can make it more convenient for yourself.
One of the key principles of habit psychology is reducing the barriers or roadblocks that may come up. The more barriers in your way, the less likely you are to follow through.
One way you can make your workout more convenient includes doing it at home rather than at a gym. This way, you don’t have the barrier of needing to get in the car and drive somewhere, adding more time and another step to the process. Instead, you can just get started immediately at home.
Another example is to set your workout clothes out the night before so they’re all ready to go. This removes the barrier of needing to find all your different clothing items in the moment!
You can also choose what type of workout you’ll do ahead of time to reduce decision fatigue and set up your space with a mat and water if you’re working out at home.
5. Have Options for Yourself
If you’ve ever tried to be consistent with any type of habit, but especially exercise, there are always those days where we don’t feel 100% or our minds simply tell us we don’t feel like following through.
That’s why it’s important to have options for yourself so you can have some flexibility with your habit while still staying on track.
Once you’ve explored plenty of movement options, I recommend you come up with three different joyful movement situations depending on your energy levels and moods. Many of our members use this habit strategy to prepare for those days where they may not want to follow through.
- Ideal movement: this is the workout you look forward to the most and do when you have lots of energy, got a great night’s sleep, have the full amount of time you need that day
- Gentle movement: this option is for when you really want to move your body, but maybe you’re feeling a little low on energy, extra stressed, or sore from another workout and need to be a little more kind and gentle with your body that day.
- “Good Enough” movement: this option is for when you really don’t feel like moving your body, you’re sick or didn’t get a great night’s sleep, but you know you still need to give your body a bit of movement. This can be everything from a 10-minute workout class to a 15-minute walk with your dog — anything that feels like you can do it no matter what you’re feeling.
Having these varieties of joyful movement options already planned will help you be able to bring flexibility to your routine so you can stay consistent without falling into the all-or-nothing mentality.
Put This Into Practice
Now that you understand more about what joyful movement is, you can take these steps and begin exploring what movements may feel best for you and building your own joyful movement routine.
As you work through this, be sure to check in with yourself as you go and notice what’s working for you and what feels really great, and where you may need to adjust. Give yourself time to find what feels good to you!