Committing to a regular habit of moving your body is one of the best things you can do for your health, both in body and mind. While we have discussed at length the benefits of including movement in your day-to-day routine, such as improved sleep, digestion and mental wellbeing, over a lifetime these benefits multiply. Building a life where you can move freely in your body, with ease, allows you to keep doing whatever it is that you love, for as long as possible.
The key is to shift our thinking about exercise from workouts, to simply moving more in our everyday lives. Modern lives are not set up to encourage movement, and it is very easy to spend a lot of time sitting, at our desks or relaxing watching TV. Unfortunately, simply doing a couple of exercise classes a week will not balance this out. We need to think of movement in a more holistic way in our lives. When we zoom out and think about how we can bring more movement into our weeks and months, we begin to build a life that is more healthful and sustainable.
Being ‘fit’ can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect – how will we ever know if we have achieved this goal? If you are tired, achy and short on time, it can seem impossible to commit to a structured exercise routine. It can be a better strategy to consider increasing or improving how you currently move in your everyday life. This way you can begin to build a foundation of easy movement, and then add exercise on top if you want.
Take stretches for example. Rather than thinking about taking five minutes to breathe deeply and move your muscles as something you ‘should be doing’, reframe them as a way to make your days more comfortable. When you are able to sit at your desk without a permanent shoulder or lower back ache, you will begin to see these small habits in a different way. Similarly, if we consider daily walking as away to ensure that we can keep visiting loved ones or exploring new places, it can shift how we see this basic habit.
It can help to create a vision of where you want to be and all of the things you would like to continue doing as long as possible. If you can keep that picture in your mind, it will act as motivation to draw on when you are tempted to give up. This is a way to build a life based on sustainable movement, not only for short term gains.
And best of all, you will be able to embrace the feeling of satisfaction of showing up for yourself and sticking to your goal. Following through on your commitment to yourself is a great way to boost your self-trust and self-esteem, with benefits extending well past simply your physical fitness. If you can commit to these small habits every day, you never know what else you will be able to achieve.