Today’s blog post is the final part of our series on “being healthy”. Last week, we talked about nourishing our bodies with food. This week, the focus is on energizing our bodies through movement. We like to use the term “energizing” as opposed to exercising because there can be negative connotations to the term “exercise.” For the purpose of this blog post, however, we will stick with more commonly used terms like physical activity and exercise so we’re all on the same page.
Most of us know that being physically active in a healthy way can benefit both our mental and physical health. Getting our bodies moving is good for our heart, can help relieve anxiety and can strengthen our bones and muscles. But, like all good things, exercise can become unhealthy as well. A good way to identify if your exercise pattern has become a problem is to look at the reason why you exercise. For example, someone may exercise just to burn calories. This is not part of a healthy lifestyle and may be linked to disordered eating1.
The National Eating Disorders Association describes healthy exercise as “being physically active in a normal, ongoing way”2. Exercise, then, is reasonable and attainable, not excessive. Healthy movement is fluid, not rigid; it changes based on the weather, our physical health and unexpected life events. It doesn’t exhaust or deplete our bodies, it energizes them3. It’s not punishment for what we just ate; it’s a way to celebrate our body’s abilities. Exercising in a healthy way is not done in secret or at inappropriate times, and it doesn’t get in the way of plans with friends and family1. Healthy movement improves our mind-body connection; it doesn’t allow or induce disconnection. And it relieves mental and physical stress instead of creating more stress3. Most of all, healthy movement is enjoyable4.
If this doesn’t sound like the kind of physical activity you’ve been engaging in, it might be time to take a break from your exercise regimen. It may be helpful to find a new, more positive way to move.
At the end of the day, physical activity is not about losing weight, burning calories or looking better. If those things become our focus, we’ll never be satisfied. We will never like ourselves more when our goal is to make our bodies fit within an impossible ideal. If we focus on changing our mindset instead of our bodies, that’s when we’ll find fulfillment. We can change our perspective on physical activity from an obligation or obsession to a way to energize our bodies and feel better. Then, we can start to actually enjoy being active! When we turn our outlooks from working on our outside to working on our inside, we’ll find we like ourselves more. Focus on your inner strengths, enjoy movement in a healthy way, and make the best of this life you’ve been given.
1. Dunford, M., & Doyle, J. A. (2015).Nutrition for sport and exercise (3rd). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
2. Prevention & health promotion. (2014). Retrieved from http://nedic.ca/give-get-help/prevention-health-promotion
3. Dobinson, A. (2018). Unhealthy exercise. In Centre for Clinical Interventions. Retrieved from http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/ACFE916.pdf
4. The health at every size approach. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=152